Guardiola’s squad rotation made the Man City’s Carabao Cup exit. On Wednesday, Southampton defeated Manchester City 2-0 at St. Mary’s to eliminate them from the Carabao Cup quarterfinals. Several careless Manchester City players—who don’t frequently start in the Premier League but were used by Pep Guardiola in the name of squad rotation—were preyed upon by Southampton.
Sergio Gomez, a right back, lost control of the ball to start the move that led to Sekou Mara’s goal. As a result of goalkeeper Stefan Ortega’s poor positioning, Moussa Djenepo was able to shoot the Saints’ second goal over his head.
At halftime, Guardiola substituted in seasoned players Kevin De Bruyne, Nathan Ake, and Manuel Akanji in an unsuccessful attempt to ignite a comeback. Later in the game, Rodri and Erling Haaland were also introduced. However, it was not enough to make up for the terrible beginning.
From front to back, Southampton’s right side was outstanding. Four successful tackles, three interceptions, and two goal involvements were shared by Lyanco and Djenepo. But Mara stood out from the crowd, heralding a historic victory with her first goal since joining the Saints last summer. He handled it so effectively that he beat Ortega with a first-time shot from a Lyanco cross.
Given how much money Manchester City spends on transfers, Guardiola would prefer to be able to rely on his depth, but on Wednesday, his backup players mainly underwhelmed. He’ll be especially upset with Gomez for throwing the ball away prior to Southampton’s first goal if a halftime hook is any clue. Additionally struggling, Julian Alvarez squandered a significant second-half opportunity when he was unable to fully get to a low cross.
Arsenal’s five-point lead atop the Premier League standings going into City’s Saturday matchup with Manchester United is one of the reasons Guardiola decided to rotate his team against Southampton. The manager wanted his stars to be fresh for Saturday’s must-win derby against the Red Devils because he knows Manchester City can’t afford many more mistakes.
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