Manchester City maintained their 100 per cent winning start to the ongoing Premier League campaign with a battling win away at West Ham on Saturday afternoon.
In what was a lively start to the contest, pinball ensued in the home side’s penalty area as Alphonse Areola produced two quick-fire saves early in the game to deny both Rodri and Ruben Dias.
The game remained open throughout with both sides looking to threaten, while West Ham continued to grow in confidence as the game developed. That confidence reached boiling point as Vladimir Coufal’s cross was met by the diving head of summer signing James Ward-Prowse.
Manchester City searched for an equaliser but Erling Haaland saw an effort blocked on the line meaning Pep Guardiola’s side went into the half-time interval behind.
The Premier League champions came out of blocks firing on all cylinders though and soon found an equaliser through a new face of their own. Jérémy Doku grabbed his first goal in English football after weaving into the area and striking the ball into the bottom corner.
Julian Alvarez went close shortly after but saw an outstanding effort from a direct free-kick hit the inside of the woodwork as fortunes began to change in favour of Pep Guardiola’s men.
Matheus Nunes made his debut for the club after the hour mark, and it was the Portuguese midfielder’s compatriot Bernardo Silva who fired Manchester City into the lead for the first time in the contest.
Silva proved exactly why the club worked intently to keep him at the Etihad Stadium as he raced in behind the West Ham backline and converted deftly from Julian Alvarez’s chipped pass, beating a despairing Alphonse Areola with ease.
Manchester City almost had three as stand-in captain Kyle Walker stormed forward on the right in the closing minutes and crossed to Erling Haaland, but the Norwegian shot an effort straight at Areola.
When it seemed as though it might not be the day for the Norwegian, Erling Haaland proved exactly why he should never be written off, finally getting his goal just minutes after with Bernardo Silva passing on the ball for him to fire past the Frenchman in West Ham’s net.
Following yet another successful afternoon’s work for the Premier League champions, here are five things we learned from Manchester City’s away win over West Ham.
Doku dazzles defenders
Manchester City’s newest attacking threat Jérémy Doku looked more than impressive in just his second appearance for the club, arguably putting in the best performance of any player on the day at the London Stadium.
The young Belgian – signed from Stade Rennes in August – continuously tormented West Ham on the left wing with his pace and trickery. His strength also allowed him to win back the ball for his team in defensive positions, showing that City have signed the full package.
Other Premier League defences will be looking on with fear now that Manchester City have a pacey winger with dynamism once again, adding to an already dynamic forward line that reaped so much reward last season.
The Blues battle on
Champions win in every circumstance, even when the chips are down and if there has ever been a team who embody that philosophy in the Premier League, it is without doubt Manchester City.
From Sergio Agüero’s famous title winner in 2012 to İlkay Gündoğan’s double versus Aston Cilla on the final day of the 2021/22 season, Manchester City are no strangers to fighting until the end.
Pep Guardiola’s men found themselves pegged back by the London side and behind at the break for the first time this season.
The Citizens rallied together though and came out in the second half determined to continue their winning streak this campaign, which only acts to cement their position as favourites for the title once again.
Missing midfield maestros
Manchester City’s midfield was missing certain figures for the composure needed in this game. Sure Rodri and Bernardo Silva played well, but without a figure such as the departed İlkay Gündoğan, new signing Mateo Kovačić, or club stalwart Kevin De Bruyne, the midfield lacked a certain edge.
This proved to be exploited on numerous occasions by West Ham, who often stormed forward and saw some dividends through the opening goal. Manchester City improved in the second half and Matheus Nunes’ debut was much-needed for the Premier League champions.
Transfer targets impress
Pep Guardiola had targeted two West Ham players in the summer to no avail with both Lucas Paquetá and Nayef Aguerd reportedly on the radar. The sought after pair both put in good displays versus the Premier League champions, with the latter sliding in to block an Erling Haaland shot on the line.
David Moyes’ Brazilian starlet also did not look out of place in a star-studded engine room facing up against the world class likes of Rodri and Bernardo Silva. Should City wish to pursue either player in the next transfer windows, their potential addition to the squad could only help keep the Citizens on top one would think.
Haaland’s favourite opposition
Some players love scoring against specific teams and get known for tormenting them each time they face their opponents. When it comes to Erling Haaland, a case can be made for most of the teams in the Premier League, such is the Norwegian’s prowess in front of goal.
Yet, West Ham have faced him on three occasions and have conceded in all three with the Hammers being somewhat sentimental to Erling Haaland too.
Given it was in this fixture last year that he made both his Premier League debut for Manchester City, as well as grabbing his first two goals for the club, the London Stadium remains a favourite for the striker.