The Etihad Stadium
FA Premier League
23/02/2020 8:00 pm
Referee: Stuart Attwell of Warwickshire
|Manchester City||West Ham United|
|Agüero (59' pen)|
|31 Ederson||1 Lukasz Fabianski|
|3 Danilo||24 Ryan Fredericks|
|4 Vincent Kompany||23 Issa Diop|
|30 Nicolas Otamendi||21 Angelo Ogbonna|
|35 Oleks Zinchenko||53 Ben Johnson||Zabaleta 63'|
|17 Kevin De Bruyne||14 Pedro Obiang|
|8 Ilkay Gündogan||41 Declan Rice|
|21 David Silva||30 Michail Antonio|
|26 Riyad Mahrez||Sterling 55'||18 Samir Nasri||Lanzini 45'|
|10 Sergio Agüero||Fodenat 85'||8 Felipe Anderson||Diangana 76'|
|19 Leroy Sané||Bernardo Silva 57'||9 Andy Carroll|
|2 Kyle Walker||5 Pablo Zabaleta|
|7 Raheem Sterling||10 Manuel Lanzini|
|20 Bernardo Silva||11 Robert Snodgrass|
|22 Benjamin Mendy||13 Adrián|
|34 Philippe Sandler||16 Mark Noble|
|47 Philip Foden||17 Javier Hernández|
|49 Aro Muric||45 Grady Diangana|
Johnny On The Spot: #DURABLE. City remain hot on the heels of Liverpool with a hard fought if profligate win over West Ham..
City flew out of the blocks into a total domination of the Londoners. Quite how the ball did not reach the back of the visitors net in that opening blitz will forever be a mystery. The Hammers were under siege but maintained Manuel Pellegrini’s 4-5-1 set up in a disciplined display, blocking everything that moved, riding their luck while City just could not find the composure required to break the deadlock.
As the opening period wore on, and the champions’ possession stats hovered around the 80% mark, City’s midfield continually sought out Riyad Mahrez rather than Leroy Sané without any end product. Notably, Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne were not clicking, City’s forward surges undermined by Mahrez’s poor reading of the Hammers defensive line. Frustration swirled around The Etihad. The Hammers finally got hold of the ball in a 42nd minute lull and their travelling fans began to call out “olé’s” at every rare pass. 0-0 and a head shaking City trooped off with plenty to think about.
A breathless start to the second half mirrored the opening stages but the pattern of stubborn deadlock persisted and anxious glances were cast across Planet Blue as the dangerous Manuel Lanzini, having replaced the gasping Samir Nasri for the opposition almost set up an opener for Andy Carrol that Ederson was equal to.
An evidently tense Pep had seen enough and before the hour mark he hooked Sané and “Rodney” Mahrez then deployed Raz Sterling and Bernardo Silva to the wings. Within minutes, Bernardo was gifted a soft penalty that the prolific Sergio Aguero dispatched coolly. City’s 50th goal in 2019 was richly deserved, if fortuitous. The substitutions had done the trick and while Sterling embarked upon a quest to push the Irons back, inviting runners in, Bernardo sparkled like bewitching gold dust. De Bruyne, wrestling with rediscovering his finest form, was noticeably bouyed by their introduction and played a pivotal role in the game management that sealed a crucial victory.
With Tottenham falling away typically at the business end of proceedings and Watford rolling over meekly at Candlefield, we are now in a clear and present two horse race for the title with Liverpool who the media will be crowning as the people’s champions all over again. An experienced City squad know from hard fought winning campaigns that tonight’s results outcome are the type of scenarios that often develop in the ebb and flow of title chases, particularly when you are still competing for titles across four fronts into March. Credit to the Blues tonight. Wembley was no stroll in the park three days ago and the team will fly to a nosediving Bournemouth this weekend with continued momentum behind them having dug deep for the cause yet again.
JB’s Man Of The Match: Vincent Kompany. Almost unnoticed in the one way traffic, but directed operations efficiently, continually urging his men on.