Manchester City put on a show and dominated West Ham United on their way to a convincing and exciting 4-0 Premier League victory. Here are three takeaways from what we saw in London on Wednesday night:
1 - Leroy Sané is a major threat
Pep Guardiola has played down individual achievements, but the young German winger is simply on fire.
It goes without saying that Sané had another impactful performance against West Ham. Since regaining consistent health and playing time, Leroy has risen in form to represent the new vision of City’s modern project.
While a number of other players had standout performances, Sané has embodied a renewal in the team. Goals and assists, improved defensive work, and undeniable electricity makes the German a pleasure to watch and a major asset to the squad.
2 - Constant rotation around the pitch gave City the edge
Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov pushed up the field as Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva swung back to start buildup play. Sané, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus pulled back to shut West Ham’s passing lanes.
Yaya Touré worked well with the back four to explore some of Pep Guardiola’s more fluid formational approaches. The team stayed compact and was well connected for multiple counter attacks.
Willy Caballero could be seen on the broadcast providing clear direction to those ahead of him. Without any knock on Claudio Bravo, it appears that Caballero has a much stronger influence on the City defense.
Versatility and comprehensive responsibility makes the team lethal. The aggressive swagger that they held throughout the match was sustained by immense awareness and energy across the pitch.
Not only did it allow City to grab three crucial points, Guardiola was allowed a golden opportunity to rest starters and get Sergio Agüero, Fernandinho and Fabian Delph valuable time in the final minutes.
3 - Controlling tempo is key
Before Gabriel Jesus scored City’s third goal, the team had settled into a rhythm of relaxed possession, and by holding the ball mostly along the back line with patience (also thanks to a lack of pressure from the Hammers), they slowed the pace of the game.
Then, a bit of ignition started to creep in as the half approached. Even before Sané intercepted a pass to set up Jesus’ first goal, a ripple ran through the team that indicated an imminent push toward West Ham’s net.
West Ham had their moments of pressure but, as mentioned above, the City defense had one of their best performances this season. This kept the pulse of the game firmly in City’s control with minimal pressure on Caballero’s goal.
Playing in this manner will give the Citizens a lot more chances of success in the Champions League and will surely elicit new predictions for final positions in the Premier League table.
Of course, there will be much different challenges than what West Ham presented, but the defensive readiness that was exhibited on Wednesday marks a comprehensive improvement on the form the squad showed, for example, against Tottenham Hotspur.
The team is clearly building toward something special. It will take more of the same with increased confidence against the best attackers in England and Europe, but City have shown the promise of domination. Although they slowed a bit in the second half, the Blues look ready to get the goals they deserve, which could be all they need to increase their winning percentage in the next few months.