Manchester City picked up their third win from as many Premier League matches when they defeated West Ham United 3-1 in Sunday’s late kick off at the Etihad.
Following a sensational first half performance of passing and movement, Pep Guardiola’s side went in at the break 2-0 up and cruising thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho.
However, a Michail Antonio header halved the deficit in the second half and set up a nervy final thirty minutes.
Chances to seal the victory came and went for City until, in stoppage time, Sterling rounded West Ham goalkeeper Adrian and finished from a tight angle for his second goal of the game and his team’s third.
3-1 was how it finished, a result which means the Blues go into the international break at the top of the Premier League table.
5 – Pep Guardiola is the first @ManCity manager to win his opening five competitive games in a charge of the club. Revolution.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 30, 2016
Here’s James Cunliffe with four pieces of takeaway wisdom from the afternoon.
Massive improvements already
City’s last two league performances have been a world apart from the same fixtures we lost in last season and you can already see the massive improvements Pep Guardiola has made since becoming manager. Stoke smashed us in a 2-0 score-line which incredibly flattered City and West Ham ran out 2-1 victors the last time they visited the Etihad when Manuel Pellegrini was in charge.
There were no hands-on-hips moments in midfield or players feeling sorry for themselves today, City looked as confident as they have ever been. The first half, in particular, was one of the best 45 minutes of football the Blues have produced in my life-time. Carrying a 100% competitive record into the international break, the Pep era couldn’t have started any better.
Here to stay?
After weeks of speculation involving Samir Nasri’s future, it looked nailed on that the Frenchman had played his last part in Manchester and was expected to be a Besiktas player by the end of the window. However, in a remarkable turnaround Nasri was not only named in the squad for the win over West Ham but he played a whole fifteen minutes of football. Fifteen minutes in which he impressed.
In a post-match interview, Pep said, “Nasri can stay. His quality is another level. It depends on him. If he wants to help us and stay to be part of something.”
Guardiola suggests that Nasri still has a future at Manchester City. #MCFC
— Sportdec (@SportdecNews) August 30, 2016
Pep’s projects are hard to refuse as a player and I’m sure the adoring City fans would welcome Nasri staying at the club because he is an exceptional player. He’s been plagued with injuries but when he’s on the pitch, he’s one of the league’s very best creators.
Intense pressing too much to handle
As the weeks go on, we look more and more like a Pep Guardiola team. The philosophy of keeping the ball and winning it back as soon as possible has certainly been implemented at City and opposing teams cannot cope. City’s front five stormed West Ham with pressure in their own half to win the ball back today numerous times and it’s that hard work that is truly paying off.
We are forcing other teams to clear the ball back to our defence or just simply kick it out. It’s a joy to watch the entire team working for each other and long may it continue.
Sterling silencing his critics
Raheem Sterling was poured down upon a weather of unjust criticism last season and this summer. It was a targeted and spiteful hate campaign against a young, English footballer that no City fan can understand, so much so that even City fans themselves starting doubting the 21-year-old.
Before even arriving in Manchester to start as City boss, Guardiola made his first move of genius man-management by texting Sterling, telling him; “Don’t worry, I know you’re a good player. As long as you work for me, I’ll fight for you.”.
This belief and motivation to impress has spurred Sterling on to become a completely different player. Many are saying it is the rebirth of Sterling and it couldn’t have happened to a more suited man. The dross that has been dished out on him for the past year has been unforgiving and it’s great to see Sterling silencing his critics game after game. If he keeps up this kind of form for the rest of the season then that £50 million price-tag burden will be long forgotten.
Written by James Cunliffe
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