A good performance? A big win? A clean sheet? Against West Ham United at London Stadium? Is this the FA Cup again? It seemed like a Deja Vu as Manchester City absolutely destroyed the Hammers on Wednesday night and made a statement in the race for a top-four finish. And, who knows, in the title race.
The game started a little slow, with both teams sharing possession and sending long balls all over the place in the first 10 minutes. Slowly but surely City began to take control of the game, thanks to dominance of possession in midfield and the electric pace of the front three. Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané ran all over the attacking half, confusing West Ham's defenders and creating spaces for themselves and others.
City were intense and pressured the Hammers high up the pitch, exactly like we saw against Tottenham Hotspur ten days ago, and that aggressive approach led to the opening goal. A steal in midfield ignited a quick fast break, and Kevin De Bruyne passed the ball to Gabriel Jesus, who gave it back to De Bruyne and he calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner away from the reach of Darren Randolph. 1-0.
Just four minutes later, another fast counter-attacking sequence, and Leroy Sané put on a show, first with a nutmeg on Sam Byram then with a quick dribbling run into the box and a dangerous cross, which deflected off Randolph and gave a tap-in to David Silva. The Spaniard couldn't miss: 2-0 City and it was the Cup game all over again.
It was exactly like we saw three weeks ago at the same stadium: quick City goals simply destroyed West Ham's confidence, and they just couldn't get organized anymore. It was too easy for City to find spaces, and the third goal was a matter of time.
As we approached halftime, the goal came. Sané anticipated a West Ham pass, got the ball back and found Sterling with a beautiful through ball; the Englishman (onside) wasn't selfish and gave a tap-in goal to Gabriel Jesus, and the Brazilian scored with his left foot to mark his first ever Premier League start with a goal. That ended the game, and City just wanted to protect the lead and keep a clean sheet in the second half.
The final period went quickly, with City keeping the ball most of the time and not suffering any kind of pressure from the hosts, who had already given up on even trying to score. New signing Robert Snodgrass came on and brought some life into the West Ham attacks, but Willy Caballero, who started in place of Claudio Bravo and will probably be City's number one goalkeeper from now on, wasn't troubled at all.
And City also added to their lead in the only moment they decided to attack. De Bruyne played a fantastic through ball to Sterling, who was taken out inside the box by José Fonte. Clear penalty for City, and Yaya Touré scored from the spot to give the Sky Blues a four-goal win.
This was a truly amazing performance, something we haven't seen from City in the league for a long time. Pep Guardiola is certainly happy with what he's seen, especially from the three young kids up front, and if his team is able to keep this level of performance, City all of a sudden become a force to be reckoned with this season.
West Ham: Randolph; Byram, Reid, Fonte, Cresswell; Obiang (Snodgrass), Noble; Feghouli (Fernandes), Lanzini, Antonio; Carroll (Fletcher)
Man City: Caballero; Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov; Touré; Sterling (Agüero), De Bruyne (Fernandinho), Silva (Delph), Sané; Gabriel Jesus
Goals: De Bruyne (17'), Silva (21'), Gabriel Jesus (39'), Touré (64')