Manchester City takes the win on a freezing afternoon.
Manchester City defeated West Ham at home in a very complicated match where the snow was the protagonist. With this result, City now has 29 points and is in second place in the Premier League.
The starting lineup was quite good by Guardiola, with an interesting proposal where Mahrez was positioned as a false 9 while Gabriel and Sterling were positioned on the wings, although it should be pointed out that these were not fixed positions, as there was a constant rotation by everyone, which, during the match, helped to generate spaces and create opportunities.
On the other hand, West Ham opted for a formation with two fast strikers (Masuaku and Antonio) to have a constant advantage in the counter-attacks, as having our full-backs in the opposing half meant that almost every attempt by the visitors would be a 2 vs 2 against the center-backs.
Something fundamental for the development of the match was the excellent combination and understanding of Bernardo and Gundogan, who together constantly moved forward to accompany Riyad, which caused the Hammers to sacrifice a man in midfield so that their central defenders would not play at a numerical disadvantage.
As usual, City's style of play began to wear down their opponents, which is normal, as they make you run continuously after the ball, which apart from exhausting you physically also frustrates you on a mental level.
Now that we are a bit deeper into the game, it is important to mention that the goal was scored by Gundogan thanks to the German's constant movement on all sides of the pitch.
This kind of movement that both he and Bernardo manage, gave City the opportunity throughout the game to place about 5 players in the box so that the opposing defenders had no idea what to do or who to mark.
Another player who deserves to be highlighted is Sterling, this because the English attacker was a key player during the first half to contain the few, but fast, attacks that West Ham tried. Although Raheem's work in the attack has been discreet for a few months, today he was quite solid.
And while we're on the defensive topic, we can't overlook Rodri's performances, as he completely disabled Rice, who usually plays the role of a playmaker for his team, so if you leave him without the ball, there's little they can do.
However, throughout this analysis, I have not stopped talking about the great role that the midfield has in attack, but not only that, they also defend.
On certain occasions, Rodri has to play further back, almost like a third central defender due to the difficulty of certain attackers like Antonio who, in speed and physicality, won almost every duel against Laporte and Ruben, which is why it is essential that, when they don't have the ball, both Bernardo and Gundo are able to get into the defensive position and recover the ball.
Finally, it is important to mention how well Guardiola has learned to dominate games. Just a few seasons ago we saw how the games were complicated by this constant need to score more and more goals in an almost desperate way.
Now, the Spanish coach has learned to sleep the game based on possession and to finish it from the 70th minute with the ball at the team's feet, looking to score one more, but without risking enough for the equalizer to come.
During the match, there were 3 key moments that need to be highlighted
- 16’ Goal disallowed to Mahrez: This early goal could have meant a bigger result for City, as at that moment it was when they were playing better. Unfortunately, the Algerian was offside so the VAR disallowed the goal.
- 33’ Gundogan's goal: The German's ability to appear by surprise led to the first goal of the afternoon, which was important for us to win. In this play, it is important to highlight the number of players in the box, because with so many people in there, it is almost impossible for the ball not to end up in the net.
- 77’ Ederson's save: The Brazilian has been criticized a lot in recent weeks, but fortunately for us, he is always there when we need him, because at this moment a goal would have meant a draw and would have complicated the result too much.
Players of the Match
From my point of view we must give special recognition to Rodri, the Spaniard does not miss a single pass, he retains well and distributes even better and sometimes plays as a 3rd center back, which in cases like this where Antonio plays with his physicality, is vital.
Gundogan was officially the man of the match, which is normal, as he is regaining that role he had last season where he appeared in the box unmarked to score, for which Bernardo, who constantly and almost naturally pulls the mark, is very necessary.
But without a doubt, those who take the title of man of the match are the staff members in charge of clearing the snow, because in just under 20 minutes they managed to remove everything that prevented the game from being played.
· Pep thanked the groundskeepers, stating that they were the men of the match.
"The groundskeepers were the man of the match. They did an incredible job today." [via @sistoney67]
· In addition, the Spanish coach expressed his delight for this result.
"It was a huge victory for us. We could maybe make another speed, another rhythm but weather conditions didn't allow us to do it. It was a good performance from us." [via @andyhampson]
On the other hand, Rodri admitted that this match was complicated for him
"Today was a battle on the pitch - it was a difficult day due to the weather conditions, but of course always difficult against this team, one of the toughest in the league..." [via @ManCity]
Who is next?
Manchester City's next game is on Wednesday against Aston Villa.