Lethargic City punished by Hammers
FA Premier League
Saturday 25 October 2014, 12.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Mangala, Clichy (Kolarov 78), Fernando (Milner 78), Toure, Silva, Navas, Dzeko (Jovetic 59), Aguero
Unused: Caballero, Demichelis, Sagna, Fernandinho
Goals: Silva (77)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: David Silva
After Manchester City's disappointing draw away to CSKA Moscow, the onus was on them to get a positive result against a resurgent West Ham side. Pellegrini's preferred 4-4-2 formation had again been criticised midweek, yet he opted to stick to his attacking approach, with Edin Dzeko partnering Sergio Aguero upfront. Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy came in for James Milner and Aleksandar Kolarov.
It was always going to be difficult for City to match their incredible season last year, but their form has been a concern this season. They seem to be lacking the pace, as well as the free flowing movement, which won so many plaudits last year. Players who were instrumental last season, such as Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta, seem to be struggling for form.
This was evident against West Ham, who for 60 minutes were sharper, stronger, and quicker all over the pitch, putting City under pressure, and attacking with speed and precision when in possession. They deservedly took the lead after 21 minutes, when Enner Valencia broke free from Gael Clichy after being played in by Alex Song, and he fired an excellent cross to Morgan Amalfitano who tapped home.
City were clearly struggling, not helped by the lacklustre performances of Jesus Navas and Edin Dzeko, neither of whom seemed to be up for the physical side of the game. After West Ham went in 1-0 up at half time, it was no wonder that Manuel Pellegrini was pondering changes.
The formation for City was clearly a problem, but so was their tempo. They lacked any real urgency, and only upped their game when it was more or less out of sight, after West Ham extended their lead. Gael Clichy was arguably again at fault for the goal, this time misjudging the flight of Cresswell's cross which was powerfully headed home by Diafra Sakho.
City responded almost instantly, with the excellent David Silva scoring a goal that deserved to win a game, never mind halving the deficit. The wonderful Spaniard weaved through three challenges before curling an exquisite effort into the left hand corner. Many were expecting a grandstand finish, but it failed to materialise, with Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure missing great chances to level the game.