Manchester City have suddenly had to get used to struggling to earn three points, as for the third straight game they needed a late goal to secure victory against a well-drilled, organised defence with the intention of frustrating Pep Guardiola‘s men. After Huddersfield Town and Southampton, it was West Ham’s turn to attempt to keep City at bay.
In the end, City’s attacking players did just enough to earn another crucial victory, keeping their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Here are Seven Deadly Stats from City’s hard-fought win.
WEST HAM’S UNLIKELY GOALSCORER
There was a stat going into the match that the odds for a 1-0 West Ham win were longer than an 8-0 City win. If that’s the case, the odds on Angelo Ogbonna being the first goalscorer must have been even longer – he’d never scored a top-flight goal before.
144 - Angelo Ogbonna's goal was his first ever in one of the big five European leagues, in what is his 144th appearance. Shocked. pic.twitter.com/oNlxWcgrFV— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 3, 2017
OTAMENDI PROLIFIC FROM THE BACK
This Manchester City side has some thrilling attackers, but it also does like to spread the goals around, and Nicolas Otamendi has been one of the biggest beneficiaries. The Argentine centre-back has discovered a scoring ability few knew he had.
JESUS KEEPS MAKING AN IMPACT
When City finalised the deal to bring Gabriel Jesus to Manchester, the question was, Gabriel who? Nobody’s asking that anymore, because the young striker has quickly become one of the side’s best players. His contribution to City’s attack has been phenomenal.
SILVA’S FAVOURITE OPPONENTS?
David Silva isn’t quite a prolific goalscorer, with his role more to create chances than finish them. But he does like scoring against West Ham, so it was no surprise he did it again.
THE ASSIST KING STRIKES AGAIN
Speaking of creating chances, the ball for Silva’s goal was exquisite. So it isn’t too difficult to figure out who played it. Ever since he arrived at Manchester City, Kevin de Bruyne has been finding the right pass time after time to set up a City goal.
CITY CLOSING IN ON WIN STREAK RECORD
Last year it was Chelsea, this year it’s City with the record-tying winning streak. They’re the fifth team to hit this mark of 13, but nobody’s gotten past that. Next week, City will go for the record-breaking win, at the home of their biggest rivals and closest title challengers. Manchester United would like nothing better than to stop City in their tracks.
ARE CITY UNSTOPPABLE?
If City do set the new win streak record, they’ll also have an 11-point lead at the top of the table, and although no title has ever been won in December, it’s hard to see anyone making up that ground. Their current eight-point lead is already more than any team has had at this stage.
The phrase ‘Fergie time’ was coined as United often snatched victories at the death during their trophy-laden era.
And there is a case for ‘Pep time’ now as neighbours Manchester City show their own will to win in the latter stages of games. Having overcome Feyenoord, Huddersfield and Southampton in this manner, the Etihad outfit did it again to maintain their eight-point advantage over United at the top of the Premier League.
A powerful header from Angelo Ogbonna stunned City on the stroke of half time as the struggling Hammers, led by home icon Pablo Zabaleta, defiantly set about trying to upset the form book.
But Guardiola’s side responded with Nicolas Otamendi squeezing in a leveller from a Gabriel Jesus cross and then David Silva latching onto a sublime Kevin De Bruyne pass and hooking a volley home for the winner seven minutes from time.
“I heard about the Fergie time,” said the City chief. “At the end what we show in the last games is we never give up.
“I think what happened, the opponent doesn’t want to play. They just want to defend, waiting for a moment. Even in that situation we have to learn to attack that position.
“That is why I’m happy because we were able to do it in the second half. In Huddersfield we had more problems than this in the second half when they defend the same way. If we can take something about the Fergie time, it is welcome, a pleasure.”
As City stretched their winning run to 20 games in all competitions, they also equalled the record 13-match streak, set in a single season, of Chelsea and Arsenal.
And Guardiola said he wants to maintain this run with Shakhtar Donetsk to follow in the Champions League on Wednesday and then a crunch clash at United on Sunday.
“I said to the players the guy who doesn’t want to play in Donetsk, let me know please,” he added. “I am preparing a team to win.”
Despite being driven back for most of the second half and keeper Adrian – deputising for Joe Hart, ineligible against his parent club – making a string of superb saves to deny City, namely from Silva and Leroy Sane, striker Diafra Sakho almost snatched an injury-time leveller, but fired wide.
The loss hurt the Hammers after their battling efforts and boss David Moyes made no excuse for setting his side up defensively.
“I really want the football to be attacking, but we are playing against a team that we can hardly get the ball from so what are you going to do?” said the Scot, whose second-bottom side next face Chelsea and Arsenal.
“We are gutted we lost it. Some results don’t show that they are a really good group of boys and working really hard, but when you play top teams you have to do it for 90, not 60 or 70.”
For a third straight game, Manchester City came close to dropping vital points, only for a late goal to secure a win. They struggled to break down a surprisingly stubborn West Ham side, but David Silva popped up to score the winner.
Here, we rate the players from both sides.
Ederson: Confident and assured again. Could do little about West Ham’s goal, but crucial save from Sakho shot. 6
Walker: Like his team-mates, was sluggish in the first half but burst forward with more intent in the second. 6
Mangala: A first league start for the Frenchman as Kompany was rested, but remains edgy and unconvincing. 5
Otamendi: Proving a real asset at both ends of the pitch. Strrong at the back and slid in a vital leveller. 7
Delph: Impressive and intelligent on and off the ball having started in midfield and remained so when he reverted to his left-back role. 8
Danilo: Not figured as much as he would have liked and this display was perhaps a reason why. Makes good runs, but final ball not good enough, nor his link-up with Sane on the left. 5
Silva: The magician conjured up a winner out of nothing. Clever run, clever finish, clever player. 8
De Bruyne: Another assist for the brilliant Belgian, but was often frustrated as the Hammers constantly closed him down. 7
Sane: Was a doubt through sickness, but recovered well enough in the second half to torment Zabaleta and finally create some chances. 7
Aguero: Largely starved of the ball and of opportunities, but was subdued when City poured forward after the break. 5
Sterling: After all his recent matchwinning heroics, this was a let down from the winger. Not involved enough. 6
Jesus (for Danilo 46′): Changed the game with his entrance as he brought energy and excellence to a flagging attack. 7
Fernandinho (for Aguero 85′): Brought on to shore up the defence once City had gone ahead. 6
Bernardo Silva (for Sane 90′): The Portuguese helped waste seconds at the end. N/A
WEST HAM UNITED
Adrian: Started instead of the ineligible Joe Hart and may well stay there after a solid display and spectacular saves, namely from Silva, De Bruyne, Sane twice and Jesus. 8
Zabaleta: Great reception at his former club and led from the front with sterling effort and crunching tackles until Sane’s youth and pace caused him problems in the second half. 7
Rice: Drafted in to replace the injured Winston Reid and belied his 18 years with a combative display, only to be caught out by Silva for the winner. 6
Ogbonna: Tough at the back and towering when he went upfield to notch the opener. 7
Cresswell: Kept Sterling quiet and provided great cross for Ogbonna goal. 7
Antonio: A lone warrior up front and similarly put in a battling display when he moved back into Kouyate’s role. 7
Obiang: Workmanlike in a congested midfield and helped stifle City’s frontline supply. 7
Kouyate: A powerful presence until he had to go off with injury. The Hammers missed his strength and breaks when he went off. 6
Fernandes: Constantly involved in trying to stop City and spark his own side on the counter. Made some timely interventions. 7
Masuaka: Offered Cresswell good support on the left, but could not get forward as much as his side needed. 6
Lanzini: The main source of West Ham’s creativity and the former Al Jazira man was denied a goal by a fine Ederson save. 7
Sakho (for Kouyate 43′): Offered a welcome attacking option, but the striker missed two chances that could have changed the outcome. 6
Arnautovic (for Lanzini 69′): Created the injury-time opportunity for Sakho with a charging run down the right. 6
Ayew (for Antonio 88′): Not enough time to make an impact. N/A