Centre backs star as Manchester City narrowly beat West Ham

West Ham midfielder Michail Antonio. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
West Ham midfielder Michail Antonio. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /

Manchester City beat West Ham United 2-1 at the Etihad with goals from Ruben Dias and John Stones cancelling out Michail Antonio’s 43rd-minute strike.  The Hammers gave City a good game and could possibly have stolen a point at the death through Issa Diop but it just wasn’t West Ham’s day.

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West Ham were hit with a late injury to star goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski meaning Darren Randolph was called up for a rare start. The Hammers were also without right-back Ryan Fredericks who failed a late fitness test and didn’t travel with the squad.

David Moyes decided to go back to his tried and tested back five system, with Aaron Cresswell dropping back to left Centre back and Ben Johnson coming in at Left Wing Back.

As suspected City dominated the possession early on but despite this, Pep Guardiola’s side failed to create any clear-cut chances against West Ham.

As a result, it was West Ham who had the first chance of the game in the 18th minute when Jesse Lingard’s shot deflected into Tomas Soucek’s path. The former Slavia Prague player tried to head the ball across goal but the Czech’s header was just too high for Michail Antonio to get a good connection on.

West Ham were then made to rue this chance when Kevin De Bruyne played a world-class ball from 35 yards straight onto Ruben Dias’ head in the 30th minute and the in-form defender made no mistake in smashing his header past a helpless Darren Randolph to make it 1-0.

Despite City opening the scoring, the Cityzen’s didn’t press for another and they almost paid the price eight minutes later. The move was started by Jesse Lingard who whipped in a great ball that sneaked past Dias and found Antonio free in the box. However, the Strikers shot just clipped the outside of the post, letting City off the hook.

West Ham kept up the pressure and they got their reward two minutes before halftime through Antonio. Vladimir Coufal was played into space by Pablo Fornals and the Czech right-back played a dangerous ball into the box which was sent goalwards by Lingard but it was Antonio that got the final touch to level the scores in the 43rd minute.

It was a slow start to the second half but it was City who had the first chance to go back ahead in the 58th minute. It was De Bruyne who made a great run down the left-hand side and the Belgium played a great teasing ball across Randolph’s goal, but no City players were there to touch it home.

City had been quite quiet compared to their usual standards which forced them into making a change, bringing Sergio Aguero off for Gabriel Jesus in the 61st minute. City then made another substitute minutes later, bringing on Phil Foden for Ferran Torres in the 65th minute.

The substitutes seemed to give Manchester City a boost and the home side retook the lead in the 68th minute through John Stones. The center back was found free in the box by Riyad Mahrez and the England International smashed his effort past Randolph to make it 2-1 City.

It must be said that Randolph’s positioning wasn’t the greatest and it didn’t give the Ireland international much of a chance.

After the second goal City dominated the possession as suspected but again, they failed to do much with it after from a couple of small chances from Mahrez and Stones. City’s failure to take advantage encouraged Moyes to make a double substitution late to try and get back into the game, with Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma coming on for Antonio and Fornals.

The Hammers almost levelled the game in the dying seconds through Issa Diop when Lingard’s superb ball found the Frenchman free in the box but Diop sent his header agonizingly wide. The chance was the last of the game and the three points gave City their 20th win in a row despite a very good performance from West Ham.

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Moyes and his side will undoubtedly be disappointed with the missed chances, but happy with their overall performance. The Hammers will be going into their next game against Leeds United with good confidence following their good showing at the Champions elect.