After each team in the top four dropped points on Tuesday, Manchester City had a vital opportunity to gain on their competitors in the title race. City had their fair share of success against West Ham United this season, beating them 5-0 last month in the FA Cup in City's first game at the London Stadium.
However, West Ham were on a streak of good form with the absence of Dimitri Payet, as Andy Carroll led the Hammers to wins in their last two games. The addition of Robert Snodgrass also boosted the London club’s morale before the match, but the Citizens would not be deterred.
Just like last time, City dominated over the course of the match with a 4-0 win. The action started in the 17th minute with a counter attack from City after an astray pass by Aaron Cresswell, and Kevin De Bruyne teamed up with Gabriel Jesus to score the Belgian’s fourth goal in the Premier League this season.
Only four minutes later, City found themselves on another counter attack, with Leroy Sané on the left making a magical run into the box. The young German winger rolled the ball across the box, and David Silva slotted it home to double the early City lead.
However, the pressure from City was far from over. Once again, Sané led another attack after he picked up on a missed pass by Pedro Obiang and gave the ball off to Raheem Sterling, who picked out Gabriel Jesus in front of the goal and the Brazilian scored his first goal as a Citizen in the 39th minute.
City had one more goal in the bag. Raheem Sterling won penalty. Yaya Touré stepped up to take the penalty, and his strike went past Darren Randolph’s outstretched hand and into the net.
Let's look at depth at how the team did:
The biggest surprise before the start of this match was the replacement of struggling goalkeeper Claudio Bravo with Willy Caballero, and many fans praised Guardiola for finally taking Bravo out of the lineup. He has struggled to make saves all season long, and City had to prove they could handle the opposing attack without him.
And... that’s exactly what they did. City held another clean sheet, holding West Ham to just one shot on target, which came in the fourth minute of the first half and posed no real threat to Caballero.
The duo of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi held tight, never letting any pressure behind them. On the right-back position, Bacary Sagna looked a little slow when Aaron Cresswell slipped past him on a rare West Ham chance, but on the left side Aleksandar Kolarov actually contributed to the defense for once.
With West Ham’s few threatening chances, City’s defensive effort proved too much for the Hammers to overcome.
Yaya Touré is starting to catch back up to match speed, and he had another great performance as the holding midfielder. City decided to play a 4-1-4-1 formation which would theoretically cause more pressure on Touré, but he handled it well and still managed to push up with the attack.
Even though Fernandinho could return to the starting lineup after serving his four-game suspension, Guardiola chose to substitute him on late so that he could have a feel of Premier League action before he appears in the starting lineup again.
Each player in the attacking midfield contributed to at least one goal: Kevin de Bruyne scored City’s first goal, Leroy Sané assisted the second which David Silva scored, and Raheem Sterling bagged two assists.
With Sergio Agüero’s fitness in question before the game, some believed Pep Guardiola would decide to start Gabriel Jesus over the veteran Argentine striker. His decision to start Jesus paid off, since the new City teenager once again showed off his amazing talent and potential.
Jesus scored his first goal as a Citizen with the dagger before the end of the first half, and he almost scored again in the second half after a Sané cross into the box nearly found his right foot.
Gabriel Jesus is truly a special talent. He will constantly provide competition for the starting spot at striker, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pep started to play two up top to include both Jesus and Agüero in the starting lineup.