Manchester City produced a fine second-half turnaround to beat in-form West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday. The defending champions made it five wins out of five to start the new campaign, and very much look like the early favourites to win their fourth title in a row.
James Ward-Prowse gave the home side a half-time lead, but goals in the second period from Jeremy Doku, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland helped City maintain their 100% record.
West Ham came into this game on the back of three wins in a row, including impressive victories against Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion. David Moyes has made The Hammers a touch nut to crack this season, and the battle against Pep Guardiola was one that people had their eye on.
It was City that made the better start, and were in disbelief over not taking the lead as early as the seventh minute. A corner from Phil Foden was met from 12 yards out by Rodri, but Alphonse Areola produced a brilliant diving save. A goalmouth scramble ensued, and Haaland’s effort was saved on the line by Thomas Soucek before Areola made another stop to deny Ruben Dias.
Haaland seemed to be having a rare day off, and missed an absolute sitter at the back post following a cross by Josko Gvardiol.
Against the run of play, West Ham took the lead 10 minutes before the interval. A swift counter-attack down the right saw Vladimir Coufal produce a perfect chipped cross to find Ward-Prowse to finish with a header. This was reminiscent of what Moyes’ men have been so good at so far this season, soaking up pressure before hitting in clinical fashion on the counter.
City however, are champions for a reason, and it took them literally seconds after the restart to get their leveller. Doku got a free run at Coufal, and the Belgian found space against the backtracking defender to finish brilliantly in the far corner. This was the 21 year-old’s first goal for the club since joining in the summer from Rennes. He provided a constant threat on the right with his movement and dribbling, and looks to be another shrewd signing from Guardiola.
Five minutes after the goal, the turnaround was nearly complete. Julian Alvarez struck a beautiful, curling free-kick from 30 yards out which hit the post, with Areola well-beaten. A minute later, the goalkeeper was in action to deny Haaland with another acrobatic save.
On the hour mark, the hosts nearly landed another sucker-punch. Kurt Zouma rose highest to head down a corner from Ward-Prowse, but Ederson sprawled across to make a magnificent save and keep the ball out of the bottom corner.
The game opened up a little after this, with Moyes making attacking changes by bringing on Mohammed Kudus and Said Benrahma. City continued to control possession, but West Ham were doing well to stop them progressing centrally.
With 15 minutes to go, the away side’s pressure finally told, albeit with the help of a defensive error. Alvarez attempted to scoop the ball over the West Ham defence, and Nayef Aguerd completely missed his attempt at a clearing header. The ball bounced and fell for Bernardo Silva, who bundled an effort over the line.
With The Hammers committing more men forward in attack in search of an equaliser, City were able to seal the three points five minutes from time. They had a 4v2 advantage during a counter-attack, and Silva was able to feed the ball to Haaland, who made no mistake with his finish this time. The Norwegian celebrated with intense relief like a man who’d finally got his reward, and now already has seven Premier League goals to his name this season.
In the end, it was definitely one of the toughest tests City have had to face this season, but just like most of them in the last year, they managed to find a way and come out on top.
West Ham United
Alphonse Areola – 8
Vladimir Coufal – 7
Kurt Zouma – 6
Nayef Aguerd – 6
Emerson – 6
Thomas Soucek – 7
Edson Alvarez – 6
Jarred Bowen – 6
James Ward-Prowse – 7
Lucas Paqueta – 7
Michail Antonio – 6
Mohammed Kudus – 7
Said Benrahma – 6
Ederson – 7
Kyle Walker – 8
Manuel Akanji – 7
Ruben Dias – 7
Josko Gvardiol – 7
Rodri – 8
Bernardo Silva – 8
Phil Foden – 6
Julian Alvarez – 9*
Jeremy Doku – 8
Erling Haaland – 7
Matheus Nunes – 6
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