West Ham United 1-1 Manchester City
As Premier League hoodoos go, this wasn’t quite the end of one – but certainly a vast improvement from a West Ham side which had lost its last five home clashes with Manchester City by an aggregate score of 22-1!
Yes, they rode their luck, not least in the final seconds when Riyad Mahrez saw his effort pushed onto the post with the home side defending desperately.
But, to a degree, they deserved that bit of fortune after a battling display which will have pleased the east end faithful (not that they were there in person) and their manager David Moyes.
Highlights of the game
West Ham stuck with the same 11 that fell behind at Spurs last Sunday before miraculously rescuing a point with three late goals.
That meant there was no place yet for new signing on loan from Brentford, Said Benrahma.
For City, for whom the games are coming thick and fast, footballer of the year Kevin de Bruyne was fit enough to be named on the substitutes bench but there was still no Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake, Gabriel Jesus and now, Fernandinho, as boss Pep Guardiola named the same 11 that started against Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday.
After a start where City controlled the ball without creating any clear-cut opportunities, the stuffing was knocked out of them by a wonder goal which will be shown on Premier League highlights’ reels for years to come.
Tomas Soucek controlled the ball and played it back to Vladimir Coufal whose curling delivery was met splendidly by Michail Antonio – the acrobatic leap and overhead volley which followed was simply a sight to behold.
Watch it when you can!
That really set City back on their heels for a moment and Antonio may even have had another but for a fine challenge from Eric Garcia.
Goalkeeper Ederson had to be alert too as the Hammers threatened a second before the visitors countered and Joao Cancelo’s dangerous low cross was not matched by a tame flick from Mahrez.
Two important blocks were needed to stop shots from Arthur Masuaku and Soucek as half-time approached and Guardiola had seen enough, bringing on youngster Phil Foden for Sergio Aguero as the Argentine maestro continues his return from injury.
The decision had paid dividends within six minutes of the restart as Cancelo showed what a good attacking outlet he can be, driving down the left and delivering a ball which was slightly behind Foden only for the sub to control, swivel and drill into the bottom left corner in an instant.
With the Hammers losing Antonio to injury moments later, it would have been easy to think the writing was on the wall for West Ham, even more so with the sight of de Bruyne warming up.
After arriving, he lifted the ball into the box for Mahrez who seemed set to score but for a perfectly timed challenge from Masuaku.
Raheem Sterling, captain again for City, has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past six league starts against West Ham (six goals and five assists), including a hat-trick in this fixture last season.
When he was played through late on with only Lukasz Fabianski to beat, a winner may have been expected but the keeper was out quickly to make the block.
Then Sterling nicked the ball off Andriy Yarmolenko and was through when a crucial tackle was executed by Angelo Ogbonna.
With that, and the last-gasp post, West Ham held on to defy the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds and claim a point.
City will take that for now but they need their spine of Laporte, Fernandinho and Aguero back in full flight if they are to mount a genuine title challenge.
Since the restart in June, only Harry Kane (12) has scored more Premier League goals than Antonio (11).
City have never lost a match when Foden has scored (won all 15 before today).
He has now scored in three of his last four away Premier League games for City (three goals in total), after failing to find the back of the net in any of his previous 13.
City have scored in 19 consecutive matches against West Ham in all competitions, dating back to November 2012.
For the first time, a team managed by Guardiola has failed to reach at least 10 points after five fixtures of a top flight campaign (11 previous top flight campaigns).
West Ham have another big encounter next weekend as they travel to reigning champions Liverpool.
City are on the road again over the next seven days, travelling to Marseille in France in the Champions League on Tuesday and then at Sheffield United next Saturday for another lunchtime assignment.
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