Pep Guardiola pinpoints Jack Grealish’s ‘excellent’ qualities after Manchester City’s draw with Southampton

Despite Grealish seeming frustrated at times on Saturday, his manager believes he was at his best on the south coast.

Pep Guardiola has claimed Jack Grealish’s performance against Southampton was his best since joining Manchester City last summer.

The champions’ title defence was dealt a minor blow on Saturday when they dropped two points at St Mary’s.

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City fell behind in the early stages to a Kyle Walker-Peters strike and were far off their brilliant best in the first half against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men.

However, the Blues responded in the second period, with Aymeric Laporte’s header getting them back on level terms.

Laporte’s header ensured City took a point from their trip to Southampton. Credit: Getty.

It proved to be the final goal of the game, with a number of City players appearing frustrated at their inability to find that winning strike.

Chief among them was Grealish, who had an on-field confrontation with Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu. However, speaking after the game, Guardiola brushed off the coming together and insisted it was the England international’s best showing for City since signing.

“The best game he has played since he has been with us, by far. He had an exceptional performance, he played really well,” the former Barcelona manager responded in the post-match press conference.

Grealish was disappointed to drop points at St Mary’s. Credit: Getty.

“When he has the ball, what he has done, and when we don’t have the ball, what he has done [were great]. Against a team that defends so narrow, it is not easy. He played exceptional.

“At Aston Villa, he played wide and moved wherever he wants and comes inside,” Guardiola continued. “I think he is the perfect player to play in between the lines.

“He is so aggressive, he makes incredible runs, he dropped Southampton to the byline. His decision-making is excellent, he has two almost clear chances to dribble and shoot and they were blocked. He played really well and I am so satisfied.”

City’s slip-up reduced their lead at the top to nine points, with Liverpool beating Crysal Palace 3-1 on Sunday, however Jurgen Klopp’s men do have a game in hand and travel to the Etihad in April, meaning the title race is far from over.