City charge to close the gap is halted by Saints

Steven Davis believes Southampton are more than capable of kicking on after Mauricio Pochettino’s first win at the helm seemingly ended Manchester City’s title charge.

Saturday’s clash at St Mary’s was teed up as make or break game for Roberto Mancini’s side as they looked to retain the Premier League crown they won in such dramatic circumstances last season.

City, though, rarely resembled a side in such dire need of victory, putting in what Mancini described as a “worse than poor” performance as Southampton secured a 3-1 success.

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That result swings the pendulum firmly in Manchester United’s direction – not that Saints midfielder Davis is bothered.

The Northern Ireland captain was just pleased to secure a first win since Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins as manager, moving Southampton six points clear of the drop zone in the process.

“We’re obviously delighted with the result,” said Davis. “We knew we would obviously have to put a lot of pressure on them up the pitch. That is the way the manager wants us to play and we managed to do that. We caused them a few problems and deserved the three points.”

Davis scored Southampton’s second yesterday, making the most of a Joe Hart howler to extend the lead given to them by Jason Puncheon.

Edin Dzeko pulled one back for City before half-time but Saints rallied, with Gareth Barry putting into his own goal to make it 3-1.

The only thing missing from a perfect Saints victory was a 100th goal for the club from Rickie Lambert, who put in another impressive display despite failing to score.

Speaking ahead of United’s 2-0 win over Everton, City manager Mancini had admitted 12 points could be too big for his side to overcome.

“Twelve points is too much at this moment and we have not played well in the last two games,” said Mancini.

“This is strange because we played the whole of January really well.

“I don’t know why we played so bad today.”