Published on September 19th, 2015 | by Daniel Cheeseman0
Manchester City 1-2 West Ham | Daniel Cheeseman
“A Harsh Result?”
The question of whether or not City deserved to win on Saturday is pretty easy to answer: probably not, but as to whether or not they deserved to lose is significantly more difficult to respond to.
If there was ever a game that better defined as “a game of two halves” it had to be this one; West Ham were deservedly 2-1 up after a confident display in the opening 45 minutes, but after the break the tables completely turned and Slaven Bilić’s side were on the back foot for the remainder of the match.
Conceding just 1 goal out of 27 shots and 16 corners is undoubtedly a fantastic achievement for any team who comes to the Etihad, so I don’t plan on taking any credit away from the Hammers, but on this occasion I don’t think the stats quite tell the full story.
While most of their defensive work was down to persistence, you have to say that a lot of it was also down to sheer luck. I don’t think City could have thrown much more at their defence other than the kitchen sink and that made it very frustrating to watch, but I suppose sometimes you just have to accept the fact that lady luck isn’t always on your side in football – so I’m not going to have a go at her as she’s helped us enough times in the past!
Anyway, that’s enough about fortune for one blog – now it’s time to get down to the real reason why we lost on Saturday: our first half performance.
After just half an hour of football City already found themselves 2-0 down and chasing the game, which against any team is very difficult to come back from, so the fact that we were playing West Ham (a side that has an amazing away record this season) made it an almost impossible task. As with the Juventus game last week, I thought the goals we conceded were once again quite cheap and preventable – and I think that part of the reason why we let those goals in was because of the absence of Vincent Kompany.
Although I thought Nicolas Otamendi had a good game on Saturday, I can’t help but think that we were missing some of Vincent Kompany’s leadership qualities at key moments in the match. When it comes to organizing the defence nobody does it better than Vincent, and when you look back at the second goal that’s exactly what was missing – organisation, had he been playing the score might have stayed at 1-0. In terms of their first goal, Victor Moses was given far too much time and room on the edge of the box and we were rightly punished, but I’ll be less critical of this one as I can’t deny the quality of the finish made it very difficult to stop.
I’ve got to say that I was disappointed with Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling’s performances again, both were very ineffective on the wings and rarely beat their first man – which made life for West Ham a whole lot easier. Although you could argue that Navas shouldn’t take as much blame because he wouldn’t have started had David Silva not got injured in the warm up, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to critisize him considering not one of his 13 crosses found a City player.
Despite the loss, there were still positives to take out of Saturday’s game – and the biggest one of them all was Kevin de Bruyne. I thought the Belgian was fantastic in midfield and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side in the end, he was the dictator of most of our attacks and showed great confidence on the ball – I can’t wait to see how he’ll play in a fully fit squad alongside the likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri.
In the end, even though some of the tactics that West Ham used to defend their lead were slightly unsporting, you can’t really blame them for doing what they did – if we were in their shoes I’m sure most of our fans would have been egging them on. Our run of consecutive wins and no goals conceded might have come to an abrupt end, but in some ways it’s good to have that pressure off our shoulders (there’s a bright side to everything if you look hard enough!).
For now we’re still top of the Barclays Premier League and by no means out of the UEFA Champions League yet, so let’s keep our heads up high and hope that the Blues can get back on track!