Schedule has played a big part. Before hosting Manchester City today at St. Marys, Southampton’s most impressive victory was a 3-1 win over West Ham. Its schedule had been forgiving, but City’s visit began a stretch that will also see them face Arsenal and Manchester United by Dec. 8.
City started today’s test strong only to see Southampton come back into the game by halftime, though without a breakthrough on the scoreboard, even Manuel Pellegrini checked out after a while. He probably didn’t even look at the standings before the game. Why would he? This is Southampton, after all. How could it possibly be that good?
The second half answered that question. Southampton isn’t that good. At all. Feel free to make this claim loudly, boldly and publicly, with no fear of ever being wrong. Southampton is not second place good.
City would go down to 10 men after a Eliaquim Mangala received his second yellow in the 74th minute. City would finish the game so dominant it appeared as if it went down a man just to show Southampton how far out of its weight class it really was.
The schedule says today’s 3-0 loss was Southampton’s 13th game, but it was the first that mattered, and damn, did the team blow it. Truthfully, Southampton lost this game a long time ago. The day Manchester City got rich new ownership, this match was decided.
Smaller clubs start hot, only to collapse at the end of the calendar year, all the time. Southampton is just the latest entry on that list.