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It's not over yet: Southampton give hope to Liverpool and Chelsea by showing that Man City are not invincible

5:00 PM GMT+8 23/01/2022
Jack Grealish Manchester City 2021-22
The Premier League leaders' 12-game winning streak was brought to an end, with a 1-1 draw at Southampton keeping the title race alive

Manchester City might have been close to perfection for the last three months but that's not to say they've been flawless.

A 1-1 draw at Southampton brought to an end a 12-game winning streak stretching back to November and showed that there are weaknesses even if some observers currently see them as invincible.

While the Saints may have celebrated the final whistle after six minutes of injury time with as much relief as delight, until deep into the second half they looked like they would take a victory.

A danger on the break and destructive in midfield, City had to dig deep to find an equaliser against the hosts.

And with half an hour to go, a City winner looked more likely but Southampton were determined and desperate and managed to keep them out.

It's a result that might reignite some enthusiasm for the Premier League season. There have been plenty of pundits that have insisted the title race was over and, of course, City wouldn't be caught if they were to continue with their victory roll.

Pep Guardiola would never publicly agree even if he thought it - but he's all too aware that his team is not unstoppable.

Arsenal almost beat them on New Year's Day when they deservedly led 1-0 before self-imploding, allowing City to steal an injury-time victory.

Leicester terrified them with three goals in 10 minutes at the Etihad Stadium in a 6-3 defeat, while Wolves were only beaten by a controversial penalty.

Southampton, who sneaked a draw at the Etihad earlier in the season, have again stopped the juggernaut and it might wake up the rest of the Premier League that they have to play with more courage.

"That's why [winning the league] is the most valued title you can achieve every season," Guardiola said. "It is so difficult, you play different contenders and everyone is ready to beat the reigning champions.

"We won a lot in the past and that is not funny for the rest so it gets more difficult to win. That's why just one team made back-to-back titles in the last 13 years and we are trying to do it again.

"I don't need to win or lose or draw today to know we have a lot of games to play."

A week ago, supposed title rivals Chelsea were meek in defeat in Manchester. Seven days later, Southampton were everything the Blues weren't.

Ralph Hasenhuttl had his players tearing into tackles, shutting down City when they got close to goal and causing problems on the break from just 26 per cent of possession.

Kyle Walker-Peters' sixth-minute strike was a superbly crafted breakaway that started in their own half - and they could have had more but for close offside calls.

Hasenhuttl may have been frustrated by the equaliser - a simple free-kick that Aymeric Laporte headed home unchallenged - and they rode their luck in the second half. Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus both hit the post while VAR calls for a penalty and a red card were rejected and only served to disrupt City's rhythm.

While Chelsea's challenge has been derailed by a dreadful winter, Liverpool can cut the gap to just six points if they win their games in hand, with an April visit to the Etihad still to come.

"Even winning the game, the title race would not be over," Guardiola said. "No one is champions in January.

"Many tough games like today must be played. We played to defend our badge and our people as best as possible.

"The title being over will be a consequence of what we have done. Today what they did was really good."

It's not over yet.