On a frustrating afternoon in East London, Manchester City succumbed to their second league defeat of the season after West Ham won 2-1. Here’s a few thoughts on today’s game.
…deserved to win. Over the course of the 90 minutes they were the better team and got into the faces of the City players from the first whistle. They pressed high up the pitch and weren’t afraid to be tough in the tackle, particularly on David Silva and Sergio Aguero. They were good value for their lead in the first half and though they had to defend more in the second half they did enough to hold out for the win. They played with an intensity to their game which was largely lacking from the City team.
On the other hand…
…City were awful and deserved little from the game. They didn’t turn up for the first hour and seemed intimidated by West Ham’s high pressing game. Questions will inevitably be asked about the 4-4-2 formation, and rightly so, which Manuel Pellegrini seems insistent on using. City were unable to get a foothold in the game and when Edin Dzeko has a game like he did today, where he was all but anonymous, the formation puts the team on the back foot.
It is immensely frustrating to see the same mistakes being made with the formation. How many times have we seen City overrun in midfield and looking vulnerable on every counter attack this season? The time it takes for Pellegrini to change tactics also adds to the frustration. With many fans still licking their wounds from Tuesday night in Moscow it almost felt as if City picked up where they left off.
That said, when sloppiness in passing and possession is almost an omnipresent feature of the game it wouldn’t really matter what formation was deployed. Lapses in concentration and cheap concessions of possession really hindered any game plan City may have had in the first half. Pellegrini may well face criticism of his tactics but he cannot be blamed for the irresponsible nature of some of City’s players today. It was simply not good enough.
It’s hard to take any positives from a game like today but David Silva’s goal is certainly worthy of a mention. It was a typically beautiful Silva goal: weaving through a mass of defenders before deftly curling a shot past the game. The only regret is that it will count towards nothing.
When Pellegrini did decide to make some changes it felt overdue but the introduction of Stevan Jovetic made a huge difference. All of a sudden City had impetus and West Ham had a game on their hands. City fans will have seen just about enough of Jovetic to know what he can offer and he changed the game. City hit the woodwork twice in the second half and on another day the result may have been different. It was a case of too little too late, especially when West Ham scored their second goal which was slightly against the run of play.
All in all, it was a disappointing day for City. If reports are to be believed the City support staff we kept out of the dressing after the final whistle. One suspects Pellegrini shared a few stern with his players. With the Manchester derby on the horizon, City will need to up their game in the coming week if they want to come away with three points against United. A midweek League Cup tie against Newcastle should give Pellegrini ample opportunity to put his words into action.
Written by Rob Toole who is on Twitter