As part of our new Premier League Snap-shots feature Graeme Bailey looks at Manchester City's opening win over Southampton.
Last Updated: August 19, 2012 9:14pm
Champions Manchester City opened the defence of their Premier League title with a hard fought 3-2 win over Southampton.
Roberto Mancini was pleased with the win, but he will look back on a patchy display and a worrying injury to Sergio Aguero - whilst Nigel Adkins will be wondering what might have been following his first ever Premier League game.
Manchester City made just one change from the side which started their last league match against QPR when they won the Premier League in such dramatic fashion in May. The injured Gareth Barry missed out with new signing Jack Rodwell handed his debut.
Sergio Aguero led the line along with fellow countryman Carlos Tevez - as Samir Nasri and David Silva provided the attacking intent from the flanks.
Southampton's side was more surprising with Rickie Lambert and new signing Steven Davis starting on the bench as 17-year-old James Ward-Prowse was given his league debut in central midfield whilst record signing Jay Rodriguez started on the left side of a front three. Nathaniel Clyne was also handed his debut at right-back.
It was the usual 4-4-2 for Manchester City as Roberto Mancini went with his tried and tested tactics. Jack Rodwell began well slotting into Gareth Barry's role in midfield, but he was at fault for the Saints' second goal. Sergio Aguero's early injury clearly hampered City's approach with Edin Dzeko replacing him and clearly the Bosnian has not played too much with Tevez - but the pair both scored which will be a positive. Yaya Toure looked subdued in the middle of the park, whilst Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta struggled to get forward - so despite the win, City know their are plenty of areas where they can and will improve.
Southampton's return to the top-flight saw them go with a 4-3-3 formation with Guly do Prado the focal point of their attack with Jason Puncheon and Jay Rodriguez either side. Ward-Prowse and Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin sat in midfield as they looked to get Adam Lallana forward as often as they could.
City were forced into an early change when Edin Dzeko replaced the injured Aguero and despite not looking as dangerous alongside Tevez - the pair scored so that will be a positive for Mancini. Aleksandr Kolarov came on late for City as he offered an extra option out wide.
Nigel Adkins made a couple of sensational changes. He brought Rickie Lambert on just minutes into the second half and just minutes later he had levelled for the Saints. Then his second change Steven Davis, did the same as he put them ahead - remarkable stuff. Billy Sharp came on with minutes left too as they went in search of an equaliser, but to no avail.
Just one debutant on show for the champions and it was Jack Rodwell. He started well, but his day threatened to turn to disaster as his misplaced pass allowed Southampton to break and go ahead - fortunately for him City battled back and snatched a late win to spare his blushes. Room for improvement for sure.
Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez both started for Southampton, and neither let themselves down. Clyne was very good, quick and solid in the tackle - he looks a very shrewd acquisition by the Saints. Rodriguez, who is the club's record signing, was often found out wide of a front three and he battled for the the cause without seeing much in terms of chances come his way. Steven Davis then came off the bench and scored within minutes and the former Aston Villa man showed he is still a class act.
Howard Webb did not have a great opening day at the office, well to be fair his assistant let him down, as for the opening goal Tevez was just offside but the flag stayed down and the Argentine fired home. Before that Webb was right not to penalise Clyne for his challenge on Aguero, which saw him injured and the penalty given against Jos Hooiveld was right.
Both sides showed there is plenty of room for more new faces to be added.
Roberto Mancini wanted reinforcements before today, but with Sergio Aguero potentially sidelined - he may be banging on Brian Marwood's door for a number of new additions before September 1st. Likewise Nigel Adkins is actively looking to spend and despite their positive performance they looked like every department could do with additional bolstering.
It is always the sign of a good side who can win when not playing well and City scored three goals without ever hitting top gear. Roberto Mancini was worried by Sergio Aguero's injury and he has every right to be concerned. The Argentine is a huge presence and City will need him fit sooner rather than later if they do not want their title chances damaged. Conceding two goals in the manner they did will also be hugely worrying to Mancini. But they did take three points when they could have easily dropped at least two.
Southampton showed they have real Premier League quality in their ranks and they will not be the first side to come up short against City. Nigel Adkins can take huge positives from this performance and if they can replicate that level throughout the season, there will be little doubt that they can achieve their primary goal this term - safety. But all in all, despite losing the match - Adkins will probably take more positives from the match than Mancini.