Another Defeat On The Road

Apart from the 2016/17 and 2019/20 seasons, Josep Guardiola has won the Premier League in every campaign that he has been at Manchester City and the Spaniard claimed his team’s fourth successive title on Sunday afternoon, as they beat West Ham United 3-1.

David Moyes made two changes to his final team selection in charge of the Hammers, as Konstantinos Mavropanos was restored to the starting line-up in place of Angelo Ogbonna who dropped to the bench, while Aaron Cresswell filled in for Jarrod Bowen who was ill.

Youngsters Divin Mubama, Kaelan Casey and George Earthy were once again included amongst the substitutes.

The Irons have had a torrid time on the road since winning at Wolverhampton Wanderers back on April 6 and just seventy nine seconds into the encounter they could be forgiven for thinking that they would be in for another heavy defeat when Phil Foden got into a good shooting position and fired an unstoppable shot past visiting goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

The Citizens were obviously in no mood to focus on their upcoming FA Cup final with fierce rivals Manchester United just yet, as they kept up the pressure on their opponents but Moyes’ men seemed determined to remain resilient. That was until Foden struck again on eighteen minutes when he put his team into a commanding lead.

Emmerson Palmieri looked as if he was going to pull a goal back for the East Londoners but he couldn’t beat Stefan Ortega.

Erling Haaland went close to extending the advantage for the current Champions but uncharacteristically though thankfully for those of a West Ham persuasion, he missed when it seemed easier to convert. Moments later however, Areola was thwarting Guardiola’s side again, as Foden looked for his hat-trick.

Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Manuel Akanji all forced saves from Areola, as he tried to keep the scoreline down to a minimum.

The visitors who had seen shot after shot fired at their goal finally worked City’s stand-in stopper when Mohammed Kudus had his thirty seventh minute attempt well saved.

It wasn’t long before the Ghanaian produced a stunning effort to give those who had travelled up from East London something to cheer. Similar to Foden’s strike which opened the scoring, this was probably better. He managed to keep control of the ball from James Ward-Prowse corner while sending an overhead kick into the net.

Having got on the scoresheet just before the break, the Hammers wanted another in order to see whether they could deny Guardiola’s men another title.

Kudus was playing well and he could have helped himself to a second goal but his run was halted before he got into the area.

The hosts were still on top when referee John Brooks restarted the action but fortunately, both De Bruyne and Foden weren’t able to add to the goals.

In an ideal world, West Ham would have loved to have found an equaliser but instead, they conceded another on fifty nine minutes as Rodri’s shot found its way past an unsighted Areola.

It was ever so nearly four just five minutes later but it was only down to a magnificent block from Irons’ Captain Kurt Zouma to prevent Erling Haaland from getting in on the act.

However, he still had another opportunity from the resulting corner but the travelling support were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief when he headed wide.

On seventy one minutes, both managers made substitutions. Nathan Aké replaced Akanji for the hosts, while Moyes introduced Edson Álvarez in place of Palmieri.

With time not on West Ham’s side, Kudus went for goal again but only found the side netting with his latest effort.

Ten minutes later, Moyes made his second change of the afternoon, as Earthy was introduced to take the place of Michail Antonio. The youngsters arrival was swiftly followed by another as Danny Ings was thrown into the fray to take the place of Lucas Paquetá.

The Hammers would have made it a nervy finish for their opponents with just two minutes of normal time to play. Another Ward-Prowse corner set up Tomáš Souček but the Czech midfielder’s effort was ruled out by VAR as the ball hit his arm before going past Ortega.

Brooks blew the final whistle after five minutes of stoppage time to bring an end to not only the 2023/24 season but Moyes’ second spell in East London.

The Scotsman’s replacement is just one of a number of matters to be resolved in what looks like a busy summer for the club. News of the latest incumbent to take the hotseat, as well as any new arrivals on the playing staff will be confirmed as soon as information is available.