- Benjamin Wolfe
Huge win for City in the snow – Manchester City 2-1 West Ham Review
Manchester City earn themselves a huge three points in poor conditions. Goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho sealed the victory, with Manuel Lanzini getting a late consolation.
With City struggling for bodies, Pep Guardiola named a strong XI, but with a seemingly weaker bench. Ederson started in goals with Kyle Walker and the in-form Joao Cancelo protecting the flanks. John Stones yet again found himself dropped for no reason as AymericLaporte partnered Ruben Dias in the centre of defence. Rodri anchored the midfield with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva ahead of him. The front three was made up of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.
Talented prospects Cole Palmer and James McAtee found themselves in the matchday squad again, much to City fans’ delight. However, they made up part of a bench with included two goalkeepers and three defenders. Hardly ideal for game-changing options.
Kevin De Bruyne, Ferran Torres, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish all remained side-lined with various issues.
It was a cold and snowy day in Manchester as third-placed Manchester City played fourth-placed West Ham. The game started as you’d expect with City controlling the ball and West Ham sitting deep. Riyad Mahrez was surprisingly playing centrally with Gabriel Jesus on the right and Raheem Sterling on the left.
In the 7th minute, Kyle Walker smashed a shot at Lukasz Fabianski’s goal but his effort went inches wide of the West Ham post. City were being patient as usual but struggled to get through the London sides several banks of defenders early on.
After ten minutes West Ham found their way into the game. Michail Antonio was unlucky not to score from an Arthur Masuaka cross. City were fortunate to escape and cleared the ball.
The pressure only increased on City and almost immediately Michail Antonio went around Aymeric Laporte like a traffic cone and Ederson had to deny him the opening goal. Good save from the keeper.
City thought Riyad Mahrez had put them ahead in the 17th minute, but VAR ruled the goal out through offside. The digital killjoy strikes the beautiful game yet again.
The snowfall was getting worse as the half progressed, but City had begun to regain a bit of control they had lost due to West Ham pressure. In the 24th minute, Gabriel Jesus teed up Ilkay Gundogan, but his effort was poor and doesn’t threaten.
Not long after, Aymeric Laporte once again struggled against Michail Antonio and brought him down. The resulting yellow card rules him out of the Aston Villa game through suspension.
After 34 minutes though, some good news. City took the lead through Ilkay Gundogan. An absolutely sensational ball from Joao Cancelo (obviously) found Riyad Mahrez. His ball into the box ended up at the feet of Mr Whippy who tapped it home. City had a deserved lead.
As half time approached it was getting increasingly difficult to see through the snow. It was almost impossible to even follow the ball at times. Nevertheless, Gabriel Jesus was unlucky not to score City’s second in the 37th minute as Ben Johnson cleared the ball off the line.
City were really pushing for a second goal before the break. Joao Cancelo tested Lukasz Fabianski before Riyad Mahrez struck the post with his follow-up attempt. The first half ended with City a goal ahead and the Etihad pitch a pure white carpet.
The second half started with a clear green pitch. Massive respect should go to the ground staff who worked miracles during the break.
City were back in their usual pattern of holding the ball and probing for openings. Gabriel Jesus nearly found one early but was blocked by Kurt Zouma. The resulting corner came to nothing. A rare foray into City territory by West Ham in the 55th minute resulted in a corner but like City’s previous one, it came to nothing.
City should have found themselves two goals up shortly after. A great ball from Raheem Sterling reached Gabriel Jesus but the Brazilian was unable to convert.
Twenty minutes into the second half and City were as dominant as ever, with West Ham struggling to get or retain possession. With one goal in it, you never know what could happen. Pep opted to try and play out the game similarly to what he did with the two-goal lead against United.
West Ham continued to break whenever opportunities presented themselves, however. City though remained in control. Joao Cancelo in particular was causing problems with his creative and direct passing.
Heading into the final ten minutes, Raheem Sterling was denied by the West Ham keeper when he probably should have scored. Ederson was then called into action to deny a Declan Rice strike. The game should have been more comfortable by this stage.
Pep Guardiola tried to steady the ship by bringing on the veteran Fernandinho. Raheem Sterling made way.
Immediately the 36-year-old made a huge impact, scoring City’s second of the day! Lovely footwork from Gabriel Jesus opened up the West Ham defence and Fernandinho fired into the bottom corner. Quality goal!
Unfortunately for City, there would be no clean sheet today. Manuel Lanzini had to go and ruin the day with a late strike for the Hammers.
The game ended with Manchester City back above Liverpool and level on points with Chelsea before their game against Manchester United.
Up next for Manchester City is a trip to Aston Villa in the Premier League, on Wednesday, December 1st. Kick-off is at 20:15.
SNOW PROBLEM AT ALL
The Etihad ground staff deserve huge praise for their work today. The pitch was covered in snow at the halftime break and looking like a freshly cut lawn in summer by the time the whistle went for the second half. In poor conditions, they worked miracles and were possibly the reason the game was able to continue at all. Well done.
THE RETURN OF THE REAL RAHEEM?
Make no mistake, form is only form. Raheem Sterling is still a top tier player. Recent goals have helped alleviate some of the pressure on him and now the performances may be coming back up in quality too. He may have not gotten on the scoresheet today, but he was looking far more confident and dangerous than he has done in a while. He’s not there yet, but I hope it continues. A fit and firing Raheem Sterling can lead us to the title.
MAN OF THE MATCH
The lynchpin around which the entirety of Manchester City football rotates. Rodri. This man has really evolved into a role all of his own. He struggled to take over from Fernandinho at times, but now he is his own entity entirely. He runs games with ease from the base of the midfield and is arguably the greatest defensive midfielder in the world right now. He gets the nod today for me.
EDERSON – 7
CANCELO – 8
DIAS – 7
LAPORTE – 6
WALKER – 5
RODRI – 8.5
GUNDOGAN – 7
BERNARDO – 7
MAHREZ – 7
JESUS – 8
STERLING – 7
Subs: Fernandinho – 7
Written by: @CityReportBen
Follow our Twitter account for reliable, live updates on all the latest news and everything Manchester City in real time.