FINALLY! The away monkey has been temporarily removed from our backs. With a tough test against Chelsea coming up (yes, I know we play CSKA Moscow away), it could easily be a one-off because Chelsea is a better team than West Ham. But, I am hoping this at least takes the pressure off our boys, so every time we take a lead on the road we aren’t going to lose 3-2.
From the word go, City looked to be the better side as Aguero and Negredo made beautifully timed runs through the middle of the West Ham’s defense. Although the Hammer’s had some good opportunities in the first ten minutes to take the lead, it was City who took advantage first. Fernandinho put a pass that looked to come out of a game of FIFA, which found the cutting Aguero who put it beyond the keeper. This gave City another 1-0 road lead heading into the half. I couldn’t help thinking that I had seen this movie before.
Some of those pessimistic thoughts seem to be put to rest when Silva connected with Aguero’s header off of a free kick and landed it in the back of the net. But, it was after this goal that West Ham woke up, if only for a 10-minute stretch, to score their only goal of the afternoon. Both Nastasic and Garcia seemed to get caught ball watching and lost their men. Vaz Te had a great bicycle that went passed the tentatively charging Hart. After that goal I had a sick feeling that the game was going to end 2-2. Thankfully this week I was wrong after I had correctly predicted our 3-2 loss to Aston Villa two games ago. Silva, my beautiful Silva, allowed me to breath easily through the closing minutes when he and Aguero worked together to score the third and final goal.
Silva’s play, to nobody’s surprise, was the key component to our attack during this game. I didn’t get to see him play in the Everton game, but from what I read he did the exact same thing. Nasri did step in quite well during his absence due to injury, but you can see the difference Silva’s abilities provide in comparison to Nasri’s. With Navas on the bench, it was on Silva to dictate our play through the middle. Because he and Nasri like to play outside and come to the middle, our normal width was not evident today. Our performance today does shows that, when clicking, we can score with any type of attacking play, whether it’s with width, or ticky-tacking our way up field.
Although we had a forced, makeshift back four today, they all performed fairly well with the exception of Clichy. Nastasic and Garcia both won all of their aerial battles (stats may correct the “all”) and, more importantly were in position to do so. There were times when the center backs lost their men, highlighted by the Vaz Te goal, but having not played together in quite some time, you can only expect that to happen. When Clichy was caught out of position, Nastasic or Garcia did a good job of covering the man left open. This did leave the middle pretty open, but West Ham wasn’t able to take advantage of it.
All in all it was a good win, not only because of the points, but for morale as well. Finally winning on the road, regardless of the opponent, is a relief from a fans’ perspective, I can only imagine how the players are feeling right now. Big game against CSKA Moscow mid-week, quick turn around from this win and I know the boys are going to put together a solid road effort, again.
Aguero (7) – Good game for Sergio adding two goals to his total this season. He made well-timed runs through the middle, and was rewarded for that in the first half. Think he could have put away more of his chances, but you can’t score them all.
Negredo (7) – Put West Ham under constant pressure with beautiful runs, and by maintaining possession of the ball in attack. Wish he got a goal, but he did help Aguero get his by acting like he was going receive the pass from Fernandinho.
Silva (8) (MotM) – He had so much time on the ball, and West Ham paid the price as he played Quarterback in attack, dishing out pass after pass to anyone in black. Paired with Nasri, he tightened our play, but he showed we can win either way.
Nasri (5) – Nasri had a quiet game today, and was overshadowed (understandably) by the Magician Silva. Because Silva was given so much time with the ball, it really took Nasri out of the picture.
Yaya (6) – Yaya got involved all over the field today, after the second goal was scored he dropped a bit deeper to help in defense. Although he isn’t the best defender, his presence is always welcomed in the box. After West Ham got their goal, though, he pushed forward putting pressure on West Ham’s back four.
Fernandinho (7) – Another solid all-around performance from the Brazilian as he even had the opportunity to show off his quick feet today too.
Clichy (4) – Still doesn’t look to be the player we are use to seeing, especially while ball defending. He was caught out of position a few times resulting in Nastasic covering for him, which opened up the middle for West Ham.
Garcia (6) – Solid stand-in with the injury of Kompany, and did what was asked of him defensively. Other than the sketchy period of play, which led to the Hammers’ goal, he was in the right places and won the aerial battles with the forwards.
Nastasic (6) – Similar performance to Garcia’s, but it was good to see him step up in a back four that was new for City. He made key tackles around the box, but he was caught of position a few times including in the play that led to the goal.
Richards (6) – Much better performance for Micah in this game in comparison to his first game back from injury, although that was against Bayern…. He made forceful runs down the wing, and got into good attacking positions at points in the game. Like the center backs, he too won aerial battles by essentially leap-frogging the West Ham player.
Hart (5) – Untested for most of the game. Not much he could do about the goal, but I think he could have come out and punched it clear, maybe.
Kolarov (6) – Came on to provide a bit more protection on the left side with Clichy, and had a few good chances to score. He was even given free reign to play on either side of the field. Never thought that would happen!
Milner (6) – Put the pressure on the West Ham defense, even though he was added to solidify our defensive effort. In defense he pretty much did what he always does. Helping the back four defend runs on the wings.