Manchester City 3-1 West Ham. 28/8/16
Manchester City made it three wins out of three and ensured a 100% winning start, against a very mediocre West Ham side.
With Chelsea, and bitter rivals United maintaining an unbeaten streak, it was imperative that Guardiola’s men followed the trend. Just 7 minutes into the game things already looked promising when Raheem Sterling fired in from close range, good play on the left hand flank saw a driven ball fizzed into the box by Nolito; where Sterling was on hand to convert. Shortly after this, City came hurling forwards yet again, on this occasion it was Kevin De Bruyne spearheading the attack, a blistering run saw him slicing through the Hammers’ midfield; however the run was cut short as he was wiped out by Arthur Masuaku; which led to the left back receiving a yellow card.
Within the first 15 minutes City were looking by far the better side, with Pep’s philosophy firmly in place ; there looked like only one winner in this affair. In the 18th minute of the match it was double delight for the Sky Blues. The chance being engineered from a free kick, a looping ball into the penalty area by De Bruyne found the head of the Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho; which was his first Premier League goal in 364 days.
By this point, it looked a case of how many more were going to follow! The Hammers looking a shadow of the team they were last season; in which they beat City here 2-1, thanks to goals from Victor Moses and Diarfa Sakho. The major issue for Slaven Bilic’s men is that they are missing the driving force in the team- Dimitri Payet. Payet showed countlessly how exquisite he is last campaign, and how much he changes games. With the home side’s ruthless nature, you wondered if there was going to be a route back into the match for them.
Approaching the half time stage it was still all City! Guardiola watched on with joy as he witnessed first-hand, the potent attacking trio of Raheem Sterling, Nolito, and of course, Sergio Agüero. They had conjured up numerous chances, leaving Adrian to fend for himself as his defence stood rooted to the spot.
Half time – Manchester City 2-0 West Ham
As the second half got underway, it was evident; something had changed.
The Hammers took control.
Misplaced passes, hoofed balls upfront, miscommunication, losing the ball easily, just some of the signposts for a torrid half of football to follow, for the team who played the visitors off the park in the first 45 minutes. Perhaps, complacency took over, or simply Bilic’s team talk had come into effect. One things for sure though; the tides were turning. In West Ham’s favour.
An inspired and rejuvenated West Ham came out for the second half, sending back the weak and incompatible one that featured for the entirety of the first half. The Hammers were chasing down every ball, hunting the City back line; ready to pounce on any mistake. They did get lucky however, Arthur Masuaku who was brandished a yellow card in the first half for a rash challenge, committed his second foul after being booked, and was very, very lucky to stay.
It wasn’t long before all of West Ham’s pressure paid dividends though. Michail Antonio bagged his second premier league goal in two games; with a carbon copy of his goal against Bournemouth at home; a headed goal at the right back post. The area in which City exploited the Hammers in the first half, was used by the away side. A run down the left hand side by Masuaku saw a perfectly weighted ball float into the back post, where Antonio was in a great position to head home, past Willy Caballero in the 58th minute. You could see this coming however; it wasn’t a shock to the system. West Ham had role reversed with the Sky Blues; they were now the side who were causing issues.
As City held back and the away side endeavoured onwards, it looked as if this game was only heading in one direction, Manchester City had to step up. The nervousness of the players fed into the home crowd as the City faithful felt dejected, slumped in their seats.
The home side fought back with vengeance, De Bruyne at the heart of things again, picked up the ball in midfield and fed in Agüero with a perfectly timed pass.
The Argentine forward latched onto it on his weaker left foot, and released a shot which flew into the side netting. Shortly after this Aguero was involved again, but not in a goal scoring fashion.There was a moment of controversy which went unnoticed, and could spark trouble for Agüero.
As he jumped for the ball in the air against Winston Reid, replays show that he lashed out and elbowed the New Zealand international in the throat.
Although it wasn’t noticed at the time, retrospective action could well be taken, which would see Agüero miss the Manchester derby.
As the game drew to a close, there was still a sense of nervousness for the home side; however this worry was soon eradicated. In the 90th minute of the match, De Bruyne found Samir Nasri on the edge of the box, who laid it off to David Silva. Silva unleashed a venomous shot which crashed onto the left hand post and ricocheted back out to Fernandinho. It then made its way to Silva on the left wing, who intricately played in Raheem Sterling, Adrian came out of his goal; however Sterling went round him, and managed to squeeze the ball into the net from the tightest of angles. Game over. The former Liverpool youngster has now played a part in five goals in the four games he has featured in this season, (2 goals, 3 assists).
Full Time: Manchester City 3-1 West Ham
City rounded off a fantastic spectacle with a goal in the dying moments, which allowed for a few sighs of relief around the Etihad. Guardiola’s men were dominant and ruthless in the first half, barely allowing West Ham to step foot in their half. However they didn’t take all their chances, which allowed the Hammers back into the game. Bilic’s men looked much more up for it in the second half, but just didn’t have the quality on show to create a repeat of their win here last year.
The Guardiola revolution rolls on.
By Tom Cavilla. 18 years old.