West Ham United 1-4 Manchester City Six Things: Citizens chase the records

Sterling was man-of-the-match – dreamteamfc.com

Manchester City equalled their 2013-14 return of 102 Premier League goals on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a 4-1 win at relegation-threatened West Ham. Here’s six things from the game.

Isolated front men

West Ham looked well organized early on, with Angelo Ogbonna handling Gabriel Jesus and Mark Noble cutting out the passing lanes into Kevin De Bruyne. The problem though was that, when they retrieved possession, the first pass was either a backwards one or an aimless clearance, giving them no chance of bringing Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini into play.

Hapless Hammers

When Noble charged out of position to cover a gap that Cheikhou Kouyate had vacated on West Ham’s right channel, an even bigger gap appeared on the left allowing City to switch the play, which contributed to the opener. Leroy Sane shaped to shoot and though Adrian San Miguel might have saved the German’s effort directly, he was given no chance by the deflection from Patrice Evra.

City hit 100

Manchester City had scored almost all their previous 98 Premier League goals through the kind of football that needs no help from the opposition, so it was ironic that they hit treble figures by way of two massive deflections. The second came when Adrian prematurely raced out of goal allowing De Bruyne to get in down the right, his cross inadvertently turned home by Declan Rice.

Cresswell’s curler

The home fans were given some encouragement in the latter stages of the first half, as Manuel Lanzini grew in influence while other players began to fight for second balls. Edmilson Fernandes’ drive won him a free-kick off Nicolas Otamendi and though it could have been a penalty, Noble disrupted City’s wall allowing Aaron Cresswell to curl inside the near-post, helped by suspect goalkeeping from Ederson. That moment changed the atmosphere and by extension, the dynamics of the second half: what could have been a training session for City became a dogfight.

Sterling’s work

Having seen the best of Cresswell from set pieces, we also saw his limitations when isolated against pace. Shortly after the break, Gabriel Jesus played a wonderful ball down the right channel for Sterling, who then had the composure to pick out the Brazilian, who produced a cool finish that simplified City’s afternoon. From the same position, Sterling then showed similar composure to tee Fernandinho up for a tap-in that sealed City’s victory.

Goal difference protection

Fernandinho’s goal taught West Ham the dangers of leaving themselves open in the transitional phases against this Man City side, a lesson David Moyes’ side heeded. While Irons fans respond best to intensity and courage – and at times grew frustrated by the lack of it late on – the -24 goal difference gives them an extra edge over Southampton on -29, so an attempt at salvation late on would have been naively misguided. West Ham have improved under Moyes, but competing with this City side proved a bridge too far.