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Manchester City see off West Ham and heavy snow for a solid win with Ilkay Gundogan leading the way

·17-min read
Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan scores their first goal - Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan scores their first goal - Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

The snow was falling and temperature plummeting but this is the time of year when Manchester City like to turn up the heat on their rivals.

For all their technical flair and pretty patterns, there is nothing fair weather about Pep Guardiola’s players. Winter invariably brings out their relentless streak and the challenge for the rest has often been to try to keep pace with this beautifully oiled machine.

A 2-0 defeat to Tottenham around this time last year proved the catalyst for an unbeaten 28-game run in all competitions and we may come to reflect on the surprise loss at home to Crystal Palace at the end of last month as being a similar springboard this term.

West Ham United have aspirations of Champions League football but they were mostly kept at a safe distance on an afternoon when City again made light of the absences of Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish to record a fifth successive win in all competitions.

The smart money would still be on a three-horse title race come the onset of spring but both Chelsea and Liverpool will be acutely aware of City’s ability to turn the screw and embark on dizzying winning runs. December’s fixtures are appetising as well, although Guardiola is not getting carried away. “What we have done in the past is the past,” the City manager said. “The only thing is to celebrate this, recover well and go to Birmingham on Wednesday to play Aston Villa. The rest is fantasy, normally if you have the wrong thoughts in your mind it create problems in the team.”

West Ham fought hard during a close first half in heavy snow - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
West Ham fought hard during a close first half in heavy snow - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

City had to wait until the brink of stoppage time for a second, with Fernandinho stroking home a lovely finish from the edge of the penalty area from Ilkay Gundogan’s square pass shortly after coming on to eventually double the advantage given to them by Gundogan in the first half.

It was a good job for Guardiola, too, because Manuel Lanzini cracked home a sumptuous volley with almost the last kick of the game and, in doing so, robbed Ederson of the chance of a 100th clean sheet as a City goalkeeper. A point, in truth, would have greatly flattered West Ham, who started well and were good in moments but lacked the quality going forward to hurt their opponents.

Perhaps they had one eye on the visit of Brighton on Wednesday, particularly after Thursday’s trip to Vienna in the Europa League, but the game was gradually taken away from them after Gundogan scored and there never felt like much chance of a repeat of their heroics in the 3-2 win against Liverpool a few weeks earlier. David Moyes said he wants more from his forward players. Asked if he was worried about the form of some of them, the West Ham manager said: “Yes I am and I have told them. We are needing to be better in those areas we’re getting opportunities. If we want to be in the top area we have got to have players who take opportunities. Our attacking play could be much cleaner with the chances we create.”

 A member of ground staff is seen clearing snow from the pitch at half time during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United - Getty Images Europe 
A member of ground staff is seen clearing snow from the pitch at half time during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United - Getty Images Europe

A classic it was not, which was unsurprising given the conditions. Guardiola hailed the ground staff as the “men of the match” after they did such a superb job clearing the pitch of snow during an extended half-time interval. For a while, with the pitch markings difficult to make out and visibility worsening, you feared the game may be under threat but the conditions brightened after the interval.

Raheem Sterling continues to edge back to form, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo remain as menacing as ever, West Ham’s attempts to smother the ever improving Rodri did not yield too much success, and Gundogan’s willingness to ghost from that second line is a lesson for any midfielder. The German has an innate sense of goal and he was on the right position to turn home the ball from inside the six-yard box after Riyad Mahrez’s shot had deflected off the foot of Aaron Cresswell into his path.

Credit must first go to Cancelo, though, and a gorgeous 45-yard pass into Mahrez’s feet from one of those central positions City’s nominal left-back loves to take up.

Most teams would be crippled by the loss of players like De Bruyne, Foden and Grealish but, operating almost in a 4-2-4 with Gabriel Jesus and Sterling pinned wide, West Ham struggled to button down Gundogan and Bernardo, who were joined time and again in the middle by the roving Cancelo. There is no disgrace in that. Paris Saint-Germain found it just as difficult on Wednesday. The quiet elevation in Rodri’s game has also given City that platform at the base of midfield from which to build that Fernandinho once provided.

Jesus could have had a couple of goals but he was denied in either half by outstanding goal-line clearances from Ben Johnson and Cresswell, the latter having to be substituted after slamming his lower back into a post in the process. Mahrez and Bernardo also had goals disallowed for City.

West Ham started well enough. Michail Antonio drew a free-kick on the right edge of the penalty area after being taken down by Aymeric Laporte and also hit the side netting after wriggling free on the byline and Said Benrahma had a shot saved but they could not sustain it and Lanzini’s stunning finish was too little, too late.

As it happened: below

04:05 PM

FULL TIME: Man City 2 West Ham 1

Closely contested in a dramatic first half, with the snow tumbling down. They cleared the pitch at half time and to be honest, City had a clear run to the winning post. Hammers didn't play badly but they were never really able to get close and it felt like Pep's boys had another gear. West Ham cleared a couple off the line and the result was a little bit more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

04:02 PM

GOAL! Man City 2 West Ham 1 (Lanzini 90+)

The Hammers have pulled one back! It's Lanzini. Absolute belter, he hit that from some distance and got all of it. But it is going to be no more than a footnote.

04:00 PM

90 mins: Man City 2 West Ham 0

City have it in the net once again, but an offside flag has curtailed the celebrations on this occasion. Fernandinho pinched the ball almost straight from the kick off and put Bernardo in. Lovely finish but miles offside.

04:00 PM

GOAL! Man City 2 West Ham 0 (Fernandinho 89)

City have a corner, and hold onto it down in that corner, but then think they might as well try and play it in. Neat interplay, nicely done, and they slip it to Fernandinho, who tucks the ball away smartly from maybe 16 yards.

03:58 PM

87 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

The veteran Fernandinho is coming on.

03:56 PM

86 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Rice drives forward, beats two, and another but over-runs it and slides out. He grabs, and throws, a handful of snow in frustration.

03:54 PM

85 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

That is cleared with relative ease.

03:53 PM

84 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

They've stayed in it, and now Hammers look to land a blow of their own. They've won a corner. Bowen.

03:47 PM

77 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Rice has a dibble! Ederson punches it, probably more because of the conditions than he was struggling to catch it, if you know what I mean.

03:45 PM

75 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Rúben Dias has chopped down Antonio and is really lucky not to get booked, for me.

Masuaku makes way for Bowen.

03:43 PM

70 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

A quiet game in the second half, certainly in terms of chances.

West Ham seem to be keeping it as tight as possible, with a view I guess to having a go in the last ten minutes.

03:37 PM

65 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Big big news for a certain other Manchester club: Michael Carrick has left Ronaldo out of the XI.

03:36 PM

61 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Lanzini and Coufal the men who come on.

03:35 PM

60 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

That's twice Jesus has been denied on the line in this match, will they deny him thrice etc etc. Creswell did himself a mischief colliding with that post. He's come off. Also Benrahma, who hasn't been moving too good.

03:27 PM

Comments in the build up to this

Former England striker Carlton Cole has apologised for comments comparing a possible heavy West Ham defeat at Manchester City to the Holocaust.

Cole made the analogy on BBC Radio 5 Live during the build-up to Sunday's Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium.

Asked if West Ham boss David Moyes had selected a defensive side against the champions, Cole replied: "You can say he has gone a bit negative. Why not?

"You've got to give Man City some respect otherwise you're going to get picked off.

"Otherwise it will be a Holocaust and you don't want that."

Carlton Cole apologises for comparing a possible heavy West Ham defeat at Man City to the Holocaust

03:26 PM

55 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

But an identical position a minute later, Raheem with more time and space this time, slides the ball across... Jesus is there but some heroic defending from Aaron Creswell as he slides in and blocks. However, he's also slid into the post and hit the upright with a fearful crack. Oof. That has really knocked the stocking out of Aaron.

03:23 PM

54 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Sterling gets down the left and crosses, that one's just cut out.

03:23 PM

50 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

A quiet start to the second dig, Man City looking quite comfortable, Hammers not getting much of a look in.

03:16 PM

Check out the racing!

03:15 PM

47 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Mahrez and Jesus warm to their work right away, and City have won themselves an early corner.

03:15 PM

46 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

We are back in business. The crowd give the groundstaff a nice hand, the players are raring to go, and go they shall.

03:12 PM

Pretty good effort

03:11 PM

Like a busy Roomba

03:09 PM

MCFC

That's Kyle Walker, I think - Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
That's Kyle Walker, I think - Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

03:07 PM

They're sweeping the snow off

in very satisfying stripes. It's a bit like a Mark Rothko. More green than white now.

03:03 PM

Guy

03:03 PM

Kick off is postponed for five minutes

While the clear the snow.

02:53 PM

James reckons we might not get through

02:51 PM

HALF TIME: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Well, very entertaining stuff. West Ham were well in this but City have begun to turn the screw. If West Ham were hoping that their aristocratic hosts would bottle it in the snow, they have been disappointed. The harder it has come down, the better Man City have played.

02:49 PM

Conditions

02:46 PM

41 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

A lovely settling of snow on the ground, City looking to bury West Ham in said ground. Their skill players are licking their lips here. The white ball is hard to see! And they're moving it very quickly between themselves, tormenting the bunkered-in West Ham defence, inviting them to lunge in.

02:40 PM

37 mins: Man City 1 West Ham 0

Very nearly two! Jesus is free down the right, shoots, and a heroic last ditch intervention from a West Ham player on the line keeps the visitors in the match. Johnson it was, on further look. Hard to see in this!!

02:37 PM

GOAL! Man City 1 West Ham 0 (Gundogan 33)

City's superiority has told. A lovely crossfield ball by Cancelo, Mahrez controls and drills it in low. Think that might have got a bit of a deflection on the way through; regardless, there's the Gundog to tap it in.

02:33 PM

30 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

The aforementioned freekick results in a corner. That is cleared.

02:32 PM

28 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Laporte has brought down Antonio on the edge of the box. A yellow card and a freekick are the upshot.

Snow business like snow business West Ham United's Arthur Masuaku - Reuters
Snow business like snow business West Ham United's Arthur Masuaku - Reuters

02:32 PM

25 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

City starting to make their presence felt. Some lovely interplay, Gundogan to the fore, Sterling cuts in from the AML position and fires it across the keeper but always slicing away from goal.

02:29 PM

22 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Gabriel Jesus sets up lkay Gundogan but he cannot direct his effort from just outside the box.

02:28 PM

21 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Diaz has given Antonio a juicy kick from behind.

02:20 PM

17 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Mahrez has it in the net, nicely taken goal cutting in from the left but it looks offside. And the video evidence confirms that.

02:19 PM

16 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

City hit the woodwork! From a corner, powerful header by Diaz.

02:18 PM

14 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Soucek has given Bernardo a good old fashioned wallop in the shins.

02:16 PM

12 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

The snowing coming down hard now, and here's the mighty Michail Antonio, using all his power and movement to get round the back of the City defence. There's just enough men back to crowd him out.

Good even contest, plenty of attacking intent, West Ham more than holding their own so far.

02:15 PM

9 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Antonio gets clear down the left and crosses accurately, but the movement in the box is just a shade off and that ends up a foot behind his colleague Benrahma.

02:14 PM

7 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Kyle Walker powers forward and hits a hard low shot that probably has Fabianski beat, but it is just the wrong side of his RH post.

02:10 PM

5 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

That's a good chance for West Ham! Benrahma looks like he feels he could have done better.

02:08 PM

3 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

Reports of the snow's demise may have been exaggerated. Some sort of precipitation continues to fall; a sort of drizzly freezing sleet I would say. Gabriel Jesus, begloved, tries to wriggle through the inside right channel but the Hammers are back and well set.

 Bernardho of Manchester City warms up - Getty
Bernardho of Manchester City warms up - Getty

02:05 PM

1 mins: Man City 0 West Ham 0

West Ham, in very dark blue, charging forward in the shape of Declan Rice, but the Basmati Busquets overhits the forward pass.

02:03 PM

The players take a knee

It has stopped snowing. They've brushed more or less all the snow off the pitch.

01:58 PM

Ball

General view of the match ball on the pitch in snow before the match - Reuters
General view of the match ball on the pitch in snow before the match - Reuters

01:55 PM

Not far away

at Turf Moor, they had to call it off. Plenty of snow in Manchester too but the game is going ahead.

Amazing pictures of Dyche there.

Sean Dyche walks off after speaking to match officials during a pitch inspection - Reuters
Sean Dyche walks off after speaking to match officials during a pitch inspection - Reuters

01:41 PM

Snooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooods

Good afternoon, welcome to our live blog of Manchester City vs West Ham, and it looks bloomin' freezin' in Manchester, where several of the home players are living their best Carlos Tevez life and rocking the snood.

Champions Manchester City have made two changes for the visit of West Ham.

Gabriel Jesus, who came off the bench to score the winner against Paris St Germain in midweek, starts up front at the Etihad Stadium while Aymeric Laporte returns in defence.

Oleksandr Zinchenko and John Stones are the players to make way while Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are again missing through injury.

The Hammers make one change with Arthur Masuaku replacing Jarrod Bowen on what is a wintry afternoon in Manchester, with snow having started to fall.

Bit of harmless/meaningless speculation this morning about Pep's future.

Asked if he would consider coaching the England national team, Guardiola said:

"I would love, I said many times, when I finish here, the pleasure to lead a team at a World Cup. But it is not easy to find it. There are only a few positions," Guardiola told British media on Saturday.

"I would like it, but if it doesn't happen, I will train clubs, so it will not be a problem.

"But in England, being here I think always I will be Man City and if I have to come back it would be at Man City, if they want me. I would not train another club in England apart from this club."

Here are the teams

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling. Subs: Stones, Ake, Zinchenko, Steffen, Fernandinho, Carson, Palmer, McAtee.

West Ham: Fabianski, Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Fornals, Benrahma, Masuaku, Antonio. Subs: Coufal, Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Vlasic, Areola, Noble, Bowen, Diop, Kral.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

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