Although West Ham United’s performance against Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium was very creditable, unfortunately they weren’t able to follow last weekend’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur up, as they were eventually defeated 2-1 in Saturday’s early kick-off.
An arm injury picked up in training caused goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański to miss the game, meaning Darren Randolph filled in for the Pole and David Martin then took the Irishman’s place on the bench, while Jarrod Bowen was also named amongst the substitutes with Ben Johnson being recalled to the starting line-up.
The home side had not been beaten here for seven straight games as part of their ninteen-match unbeaten run and the Hammers wanted to become the team that broke that record.
David Moyes saw his side earn a point in the reverse fixture back in October when they had the better of the opening stages and it was the same here with the visitors making it hard for Josep Guardiola’s side to make an early breakthrough.
After such a good game against Spurs, the East Londoners went close to opening the scoring themselves when a lucky deflection from Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard set up Tomáš Souček who in turn found Michail Antonio and the frontman nearly beat Ederson but the Brazilian was thankful to defender Rúben Dias for covering him.
Just as in October’s encounter, the Irons kept their hosts at bay but they could do nothing about Kevin De Bruyne’s floated cross, which Dias firmly headed past Randolph and into the net on the half-hour mark.
Summer signing Ferran Torres was next to test Randolph from a long way out but fortunately on this occasion, the former Birmingham City and Middlesbrough stopper wasn’t troubled.
On thirty nine minutes, Lingard combined well with Pablo Fornals to play in Antonio. He took a touch and sent an effort towards goal which had Ederson beaten but unfortunately, the ball just hit the outside of the post.
The former Nottingham Forest player got the opening goal when the teams last met following a great cross from Vladimír Coufal. Well, the Czech was at the heart of the move that set up Antonio to grab another goal against the Citizens. A passing move between him and Lingard ended with the former Slavia Prague player cutting the ball back for Antonio who was in the right place to equalise.
When referee Michael Oliver blew the whistle for the break, the East Londoners would have been quite pleased with their performance and to go in level at the break was quite an achievement.
It was clear that West Ham weren’t phased by the threat that the hosts posed and were determined to match them in every way they could. Having said that, they were fortunate not to fall behind again on fifty eight minutes when De Bruyne raced past Issa Diop in order to send a ball across goal for Sergio Agüero but fortunately for the visitors, it was too far away from the striker.
The clinching goal arrived just ten minutes later and it was another defender who scored it as John Stones sent the ball past Randolph after taking up a good position following Riyad Mahrez’s cut-back.
Eighty four minutes had passed and Moyes decided that it was time to make a double change so he introduced Saïd Benrahma in Johnson’s place, while Bowen came on for Antonio.
Four minutes of stoppage time were signalled and with almost the last kick of the game, Diop had the chance to equalise with a free header but he unfortunately failed to hit the target.
At the final whistle came the realisation that the Hammers had lost only their second game of 2021. They will hope to get back to winning ways next time out as they start March with a home encounter against newly-promoted Leeds United.