Man City's title hopes suffer ANOTHER blow after West Ham draw

Manchester City’s title hopes suffer ANOTHER blow as West Ham hold out for a draw despite super sub Phil Foden cancelling out Michail Antonio’s stunning overhead kick early in the second half

  • West Ham took a deserved first-half lead through a stunning overhead kick from Michail Antonio 
  • Pep Guardiola brought Phil Foden on at half-time and it paid off immediately with youngster equalising
  • City pushed for a winner but were frustrated by a resilient West Ham side at the London Stadium
  • Guardiola’s side have just eight points from their first five matches in what has been a slow start to the season 

They used to come here for a good pillage. A lovely place for the looting business, West Ham, a spot for padding the numbers and reinforcing old messages about those who give kickings and those who take them. But these are strange times and maybe they are changing times, too.

Because, really, this was a game for strengthening newer ideas. It was a game that built on the thought that West Ham have gone round a bend. That David Moyes has achieved a breakthrough across four unbeaten games against good and excellent sides, taking eight points from a stretch when a good few wagers would have them collecting none.

Before any other business, that warrants credit and attention.

Michail Antonio produced a stunning acrobatic finish past Ederson from Jarrod Bowen’s cross to open the scoring

Antonio celebrates with his team-mates after his piece of wonderful play had given West Ham a lead in the first half

Phil Foden came off the bench and made an immediate impact after the break, scoring to bring Manchester City level

City players celebrates with Foden after he gave them a way back into it but Hammers held out for a draw to frustrate them

West Ham (5-4-1): Fabianski, Coufal, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku, Bowen (Haller 69), Soucek, Rice, Fornals, Antonio (Yarmolenko 52);

Subs not used: Lanzini, Noble, Diop, Fredericks, Randolph

Scorers: Antonio (18)

Booked: Coufal, Balbuena

Man City (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker (Zinchenko 78), Dias, Garcia, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva (De Bruyne 68), Rodri, Gundogan, Mahrez, Aguero (Foden 46), Sterling;

Subs not used: Stones, Steffen, Torres, Palmer 

Scorers: Foden (51)

Booked: NONE  

Referee: Anthony Taylor  

But then you consider Manchester City, and the riddle of how they aren’t the full picnic right now. That they are not the force of recent years is no great observation, but it is the continued slide and the direction of travel which makes you wonder. It is the sight of such a strong attack failing to get a proper shot off in the entirety of the first half, and it is the recurrence of flaws at the back, which surfaced again in the course of Michail Antonio scoring a marvellous goal for 1-0.

The strike was really quite something, and notable too because since the end of lockdown in June only Harry Kane has scored more in the Premier League than the 12 of Antonio. Good for him, and great for West Ham.

But there were signs in its creation, in the failure to track a key run by Tomas Soucek, that make you question, even at this early stage, if Pep Guardiola’s side have the foundations to make a better title challenge than their previous one. Putting aside their walloping against Leicester, we saw those cracks against Leeds, against Arsenal, and against Porto – these were more subtle, but it is a pattern of behaviour, and even with the madness of the fixture scheduling, it can’t all be blamed on fatigue. Guardiola leant that way in his analysis, but plainly it is deeper.

Fatigue alone is not responsible for the end of a run of nine wins against West Ham, and the break to a sequence that saw City amass a 22-1 aggregate in their previous five games at the London Stadium. Fatigue is also not the sole reason why Guardiola has failed to reach at least 10 points from five games for the first time in 11 years.

Fatigue is relevant in all of that, of course. And it is also tied to their injury situation, which seems to have got worse with Sergio Aguero’s exit at half-time with a hamstring issue. Likewise the ‘exhaustion’ of Kyle Walker. But it is reasonably obvious that it is not a catch-all excuse, and the linked fact that he felt forced to name an unchanged side for the first time since October 2017 will draw only limited sympathy from managers with far fewer resources.

His first-team injuries amounted to six amid the grind of domestic and European football, but he came into this match hoping that one of Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte and Kevin de Bruyne might recover sufficiently to return. De Bruyne alone made that step, but even then he only as far as a place on the bench. While that was less than ideal, the bigger concern was his backline which has only half the cogs of his preferred four. Notably there was no start for John Stones, snubbed in favour of a player in Eric Garcia who doesn’t wish to be there.

A dejected Pep Guardiola sinks to his knee after watching his Manchester City side concede on Saturday afternoon

West Ham’s Tomas Soucek timed a sliding challenge to perfection to cut out Sergio Aguero’s effort from a tight angle

Lukasz Fabianski comes off his line with authority to pluck the ball out of the air under pressure from City striker Aguero

The West Ham goal, for all its magnificence, was an example of City’s defensive troubles.

Why, for instance, did two men watch Soucek chase a loose ball to the line instead of going in pursuit? They had appealed for a handball on his previous touch, but in the absence of a challenge he was free to control, turn and roll back to Vladimir Coufal, which set in motion the cross for Antonio that led to the finish.

A brilliant goal, but Guardiola will look at its creation and wonder.

The rest of the half was largely inconsequential, in either direction. Jarrod Bowen made good runs, Declan Rice held the midfield, Arthur Masuaka limited Riyad Mahrez to a whisper, and Antonio was a fraction shy of going one-on-one before Eric Garcia slid in to block. To see West Ham so strong, irrespective of what might follow, was to appreciate that Moyes is making serious progress.

Ederson came agonizingly close to getting a hand on Antonio’s superb finish in the first half at the London Stadium 

City players were aggrieved by the decision to allow the goal to stand, having appealed for a handball in the build-up

It wasn’t Aguero’s finest afternoon and the striker was hooked at half-time and replaced by City’s goalscorer Foden

West Ham goalkeeper Fabianski couldn’t keep out Foden’s leveller which came just six minutes after he had come on

He was however able to thwart Raheem Sterling – who is normally deadly in these situations – from close range late on

City, for their ends, had no good chances. Not one. Guardiola’s response was to hook Aguero for Foden at half-time – enforced by a hamstring issue that will be assessed on Sunday – and Raheem Sterling became the point of the attack. Immediately there was more life pulsing through City, and more mobility.

Rodri opened the half with a shot that deflected over, and then came the goal, which owed plenty to Joao Cancelo, who stepped aside Coufal and cut back to Foden. With a touch off his left he controlled before turning and finishing with the same foot.

City were stronger on the stretch and made the more deliberate effort to chase a win. De Bruyne was introduced and had a free-kick saved, Fabian Balbuena made an important interception of a Cancelo cross, and Masuaku saved the day with a challenge on Mahrez. Sterling also went clean through in the final five minutes and shot straight at Fabianski and Mahrez fluffed another.

Once upon a time, City would have hammered West Ham with those chances.

At the other end Ederson was forced into making a finger tip save to deny West Ham from scoring a second goal

Kevin De Bruyne was sent on by Guardiola with just over 20 minutes to go but he couldn’t bail City out this time

It was more disappointment for City, whose stop-start beginning to the season continued here on Saturday

RELIVE ALL THE ACTION FROM THE LONDON STADIUM HERE

Host commentator

More dropped points for City, and a batling display from West Ham.

Thanks for joining us, and make sure to keep out for all the reaction and reports from Sportsmail’s RIATH AL-SAMARRAI and JACK GAUGHAN.

West Ham may not have won, but they have stopped the rot and avoiding a sixth straight defeat at home to Manchester City.

The Hammers took the lead through Michail Antonio and delivered an excellent first-half display.

But the introduction of Phil Foden changed things for City and the England international duly grabbed the equaliser with an excellent finish.

City had late changes to nick it through Sterling as Antonio went off and De Bruyne made his return for City.

But the shares are spoiled in the end.

Vital save from Fabianski right at the death, with Mahrez’s cross shot touched onto the outside of the post.

Balbuena goes into the book after surging up the field and committing a foul on Ruben Dias.

Three minutes added on in this one.

A mssive let-off for Yarmolenko, who has had a stinker since coming on.

He plays a pass to Sterling that De Bruyne would have been proud of, but Ogbonna does exceptionally to get back and crowd Sterling out, with the England international unable to really get it under control.

What a chance this is for Raheem Sterling.

Masuaku robs Mahrez but then the Algerian wins it back, and De Bruyne feeds Sterling who is free and bearing down on goal.

But Fabianski is out well and blocks his low shot but the England international ought to have buried that one.

There is more quality from the Belgian, delivering a fantastic ball into Mahrez, who had he controlled with his chest looked set to bury it into the net.

Gundogan scored a fantastic free-kick in midweek but here hands over the reins to De Bruyne, who tests Fabianski with a vicious free-kick.

Desperate defending from the Hammers here, and they look anxious as a bit of pinball ensues in the West Ham penalty box before Balbuena gets a toe to Cancelo’s dangerous cross.

The final City change meanwhile sees Zinchenko come on for Walker.

It has not gone for Yarmolenko so far since coming on, not managing to relieve the pressure off the Hammers defence and now concedes the foul.

The Hammers starting to tire here, but they have got both Mark Noble and last week’s hero Manuel Lanzini on the bench, as De Bruyne whips a ball across the six yard box but no City player is there.

A change each from the sides, with De Bruyne on for Bernardo Silva and Sebastien Haller replacing Jarrod Bowen

Not a bad effort from Yarmolenkol with a dipping effort which goes just a tad too high.

 

Unlike the first half, City look extremely dangerous when they get on the break now.

Mahrez controlls beautifully and Sterling forces the corner, from which Cancelo fires wide with his left foot.

Rodri screams at the Manchester City defence after Bowen gets a sniff of a dangerous situation, before the block from Dias.

At the other end, there is a firm strike from Walker, who cuts across the ball and the late swerve does not stop Fabianski from catching the ball.

Not just with the goal, but Foden has made a massive impact here. This time he sits on the cuff and plays a ball through to Sterling which Fabianski just manages to collect.

What a different second half we have had so far.

Double whammy that for the Hammers, with Antonio having to come off for Yarmolenko. A huge blow to David Moyes that so soon after conceding.

Stunning equaliser from Foden, who has come on to provide classy finishes just like that.

Cancelo delivers the ball behind the England international, but he does well to control, swivel and then fire in the net past Fabianski at his near post.

Better that from City, and Foden starts the move which ends with Rodri’s shot being deflected over the top by Soucek.

Ruben Dias unlucky not to get a foul right in the corner there after receiving a tw-handed shove from Masuaku.

Speak of the devil, here is Phil Foden, coming on for Sergio Aguero, as the visitors get us going again at the London Stadium.

It’s hard to avoid, but Joe Cole and Joleon Lescott both believes that the hosts should have had a penalty for Garcia’s last-ditch challenge on Antonio, claiming he got the ban before the ball.

Peter Walton in the BT Sport studio confirms it was looked at but claims it was not deemed worthy to refer to the referee to have a look.

Lescott also disagrees with Walton on the possible Soucek handball, claiming in the same frame he did handle the ball before passing to Coufal, while Walton claims it was ‘an optical illusion’ that he handballed it.

An excellent performance from the hosts in the first 45 minutes of a fixture they have struggled in in recent seasons.

City have had a lot of the ball but it is The Hammers who have the only goal so far, and it came in stunning circumstances with Antonio acrobatically hitting home from Coufal’s cross.

Cancelo appears to be City’s best outlet but Lukasz Fabianski is yet to be really be tested and the hosts grew in confidence and caused plenty of problems after the goal.

All to do for Pep and his men.

Ruben Dias and Eric Garcia have been busy boys in the last few minutes. Dias does well to block two successive West Ham shots before the latter heads clear with Soucek lurking.

Antonio does brilliantly here to control a free-kick, beat a man and look to go through on goal.

But of all people. Bernardo Silva is the man to hold him off following the free-kick and clear.

Bowen has caused Cancelo problems but so has the Portuguese in the opposite direction.

He looks like City’s best attacking outlet so far, however, his crosses have so far been far too close to Fabianski and the Pole grabs another here five minutes before the break.

An easy grab that one for Ederson on his 150th Manchester City appearance, after his side once again lose the ball in the middle third.

Kevin De Bruyne meanwhile looks on from the bench.

A good sign for West Ham? Eric Garcia is not known for his long-range shooting but he has a go from 30 yards here.

It is a low drilled effort which Fabianski is happy to see whistle wide.

West Ham certainly present a threat on the counter despite City’s possession, and Cancelo has t be alert to ensure Bowen does not race through on goal.

Strong play there from Declan Rice to rob City on the edge of the West Ham box, and he then manages to break and draws the foul from Gundogan.

The advantage is played but perhaps rather surprisingly the German is not booked once the ball does go out of play.

Chances at both ends here, but Garcia makes a last-ditch challenge on Antonio to allow Ederson to sweep up.

Then at the other end Mahrez is unable to direct Cancelo’s cross towards goal after the wingback beat Coufal.

This has been a lopsided fixture but today Antonio and West Ham have ensured that Guardiola’s men have something to think about now.

Stunning goal this from Antonio.

Soucek does very well to keep the ball in and lay it back to Coufal. He whips in a delivery towards Antonio who has a lot to do.

But he acrobatically volleys home after holding off the challenge of Ruben Dias, a sublime finish from the Hammers forward.

A VAR check goes on for a possible handball in Soucek, but this season’s rule means there was no evidence to overturn the decision to give a goal.

The Hammers were 3-0 by this time last weekend but are holding out so far. Aguero however is finding space by moving into different attacking areas on the left and right.

Gundogan scored a cracking free-kick in midweek but this time a finish with his weaker left foot eludes him after a quick City bit of play involving Aguero and Bernardo Silva.

A warning for West Ham that.

He is in good form this season Jarrod Bowen with three goals this season, and so far has been the hosts’ best outlet.

He gets the better of Cancelo this time and gets a dangerous ball in which Rodri does well to clear.

The Hammers need more of that. Bowen intercepts a pass from Eric Garcia and then sprints 60 yards to win a throw deep in City territory.

First effort for the visitors, but it is no problem for Fabianski has Cancelo curls high and wide after stopping a West Ham break in its tracks.

The London Stadium is a happy hunting ground for City and they are playing as if they have happy memories here.

West Ham have recovered the ball on three or four occasions but have not managed to retain possession.

City stroking the ball around nicely early on here and Soufal is forced to concede the first corner of the game under pressure from Aguero.

The hosts get us underway at a gloomy London Stadium.

Players in the tunnel ahead of this one in east London, so will it be more City triumphs or will The Hammers finally break the rot?

He scored a penalty in the 5-0 drubbing in August last year, and got his first goal since his return from the spot on Wednesday.

A much-welcome boost for City to see Aguero back.

A big test for Ruben Dias today against the relentless Michail Antonio.

The defender looked assured against Arsenal but was at fault for Porto’s opener in the Champions League fixture in midweek.

With Laporte also missing from today’s squad, it appears he will have a big role to play again.

No side has ever conceded four or more goals in five successive home matches against a particular opponent.

West Ham currently jointly hold that unwanted record alongside Man City themselves, who conceded at least four goals in four consecutive home games against Wolverhampton Wanderers from 1957 to 1960.

How much will last season’s 5-0 drubbing play a part today?


A very happy David Moyes reflects on wanting to make West Ham ‘not flaky’ in an interview with BT Sport and wanting to build a side that the club can be proud of.

He insisted it cannot be done over a couple of transfer windows, but Moyes insisted earlier this week he is not in any rush to secure his long-term future.

A reminder that for those of you fortunate to live next to Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, that the game is being shown by the Vue cinema there.

Not that David Moyes understands why. 

City have won all previous meetings between these two sides in the Premier League era, but there are certainly reasons to be optimistic for the Hammers this time around.

City have yet to fully click despite wins against Arsenal and Porto, scoring four goals altogether and conceding just one.

But the Hammers lie above City in the table for the first time since March 2009, and having created history last weekend by becoming the first side to snatch something having been trailing 3-0 in the 81st minute, will be in buoyant mood.

Pep Guardiola was involved in rather angry scenes on the touchline against Porto, but pre-match today, BT Sport commentatot Darren Fletcher has revealed the pleasant side of the City boss.

Having not seen Glenn Hoddle for a while, he checked up on co-commentator Glenn Hoddle and his health a year on from his heart attack, and the former Spurs manager thanked him for the gesture, describing it as ‘a bit of class’.

The Hammers also unchanged from last week’s draw at Spurs.

A return to the matchday squad for Kevin De Bruyne after his recent injury issues, but no Aymeric Laporte or Nathan Ake for the visitors.

After Manchester City’s first round of European action this season it is back to domestic matters for Pep Guardiola’s men.

And given their recent record at West Ham, they could not have asked for a better fixture, having won all five of their previous games across all competitions at the London Stadium.

But David Moyes’ men have been rejuvenated in recent weeks and after their dramatic draw against Tottenham last weekend will be hoping to go one step further against another one of the Big Six today.

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