Manchester City were unable to take maximum points at the Etihad Stadium, largely due to squandering chances and the resoluteness of visiting Southampton.
The reigning Premier League champions can also be thankful for the timely intervention of VAR, following a decision that could have made a frustrating day even worse.
Despite being held to a 0-0 draw against the Saints, the side managed by Pep Guardiola are still regarded as title favourites, according to the latest English Premier League betting with Betfair, having now kept four clean sheets in their last four games in the domestic competition. This inevitably bodes well for City, who have spent massively to improve their defence in recent years.
Given they boast a team packed with such depth and quality, Man City are typically amongst the Premier League betting tips each weekend, usually priced at favourable odds to comfortably secure wins. Indeed, they are often seen as one of those guaranteed results that can be useful to include in accumulators, due to the high frequency of their wins.
Nevertheless, this encounter with Southampton was one of those rare bad days at the office for Man City, although the game could have turned completely against them, were it not for a fortunate turn of events involving VAR. During the second half and with the score still tied, Southampton were awarded a penalty by referee Jonathan Moss.
Adam Armstrong was heading to goal when he appeared to be felled by City defender Kyle Walker, which left match official Moss with little doubt. He pointed to the penalty spot and, of the view that Armstrong had been denied a clear chance to score, also red-carded Walker. However, amidst angry remonstrations by the players in blue, VAR came to the rescue.
There was clearly contact by Walker and there was little doubt about the penalty but the decision by Moss to additionally penalise him with a red card was harsh. This is arguably what forced the revision by VAR, given the double jeopardy of City having been effectively penalised twice, given the awarding of a penalty and the player dismissal.
Incredibly, not only did VAR overturn the red card for Walker but the penalty was also rescinded, much to the frustrated amazement and inevitable protest of Southampton players. They had been denied a priceless opportunity to take the lead against Man City, which could have edged them closer to grabbing a shock victory.
TalkSport highlighted another decision that could have changed the game, when City were denied a potential winner late in the game, as VAR intervened once again. Deep into stoppage time, Raheem Sterling thought he had clinched all three points for the home side, only for VAR to rule out his goal with the tightest of offside calls.
While they had both suffered and benefited from VAR interventions on the day, in truth, City were guilty of dropping points due to their own profligacy in front of goal. Despite breaching the Southampton defence numerous times and crafting 16 scoring opportunities, Guardiola will mostly be annoyed about his team producing just one shot on target. No doubt, he’ll be pushing his side to avoid repeating that performance.