Manchester City look the part again as West Ham are put away
Yaya Touré runs the show for champions as they beat Sam Allardyce’s side
Sergio Agüero scores Manchester City’s second goal against West Ham during the Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic
Manchester City 2 West Ham 0
This was the easy and controlled performance that has been missing in action recently for Manchester City. True, West Ham United were the perfect patsies due to a quality-deficit but still the champions ended the game having convinced in all departments.
Eliaquim Mangala’s commanding display allowed his struggles for form to be forgotten. Yaya Touré ran the show in midfield and was pivotal in City’s second. And the under pressure Manuel Pellegrini could enjoy an afternoon when calm was restored and the awful run of six defeats from the last eight outings was arrested.
Even when the Hammers rallied towards the close this merely allowed Joe Hart to again illustrate how he has raised his game as the goalkeeper repelled any threat.
City’s opener featured a slice of luck any team who are suffering a harrowing slump will gratefully embrace. Jesús Navas took hold of possession near half-way and raced forward along the right corridor. When he glanced up Sergio Agüero had peeled into space in the far corner of West Ham’s area. Navas pinged over a cross towards the striker but the winger’s radar was awry. Now came the fortune, as the ball was at that height where James Collins felt he had to put a boot through it. But in doing so the central defender could only lob Adrián and see the ball ricochet in off the goal frame and that was 1-0 to the champions.
Fortuitous maybe but deserved thus far on the balance of play. West Ham were offering only rare moments of menace in an error strewn offering that pointed to precisely why they arrived here having won only once in the last 11 matches.
The Collins own goal came in the 18th minute. By the 36th Agüero had City’s second and his 20th in the league this term. The maligned (in some quarters) Touré was crucial here. Without the Ivorian sticking out a leg to make a sliding interception inside his half West Ham would have kept possession. Instead, Agüero was able to race forward and swap passes with Navas before he pulled the trigger to beat Adrián and ensure the scoreline reflected how City had coasted through this opening half.
Pellegrini had a point beforehand when he suggested City played well in the opening minutes of last Sunday’s 2-1 derby defeat at Manchester United before the team tailed off. The manager was also honest enough to state: “We’ve been doing some things badly.” The chief fault here might be summed up as a lack of sharpness, in all areas – a vital edge missing from City’s in-game imagination and execution.
The opposite was the case today. When Fernando, who was chosen alongside Touré in central midfield, raced back to catch Cheikhou Kouyaté and snap cleanly into a tackle that killed the threat instantly here was an illustration of what has been needed.
City could and should have been further ahead as the second half started and ended. Aleksandar Kolarov had a fierce shot blocked by Carl Jenkinson and the latter did the same when Agüero bore down on Adrián at close range after 49 minutes. There was also a long-range David Silva shot that flew over the bar, and a chance for Agüero from a Navas delivery that came to nothing, the Argentinian allowing the ball to slip under a boot.
As the hour passed and City continued to stroll in the Manchester sun the sense continued they were toying with Sam Allardyce’s men. Silva cannoned a shot off the visiting defence and a few moments later, when Jenkinson found himself in City’s half, this felt like a collector’s item.
A minute or so later and there was no doubt Silva was in discomfort after a flailing Kouyaté arm downed the playmaker, who required several minutes of treatment. The replays suggested this was unfortunate and innocuous yet Silva was stretchered off and Samir Nasri replaced him.
This was the only sour note of a game that by its finish had brought welcome relief to City and their manager.