Manchester City recovered from a goal down to maintain their 100% start to the 2023/24 Premier League season with a 3-1 victory over West Ham United.
Despite early City domination, it was West Ham who took the lead through summer arrival James Ward-Prowse after he ghosted into the box and headed home Vladimir Coufal’s cross.
City’s response after half-time was swift, however, with Jeremy Doku grabbing his first goal for the club.
The visitors continued to probe thereafter, with West Ham’s resistance eventually being broken by Bernardo Silva. Erling Haaland then added to his supreme City goal haul late on to wrap up a hard-fought victory for Pep Guardiola’s side, who moved back to the top of the table.
How the game unfolded
Could West Ham contain the champions, and could they hit them on the counter-attack? Those were the keys to success for David Moyes’ side on Saturday afternoon.
Initially, it looked as if the Hammers would die a quick death as City enjoyed a spell of unrelenting pressure at the start of the game, with Haaland spurning a chance that he ought to have scored. The Nordic machine would miss another sitter later on in the half, but that arrived after West Ham had taken the lead.
The hosts grew into the contest after the 30-minute mark and were good value for their lead after turning the ball over and swiftly pouncing in transition. Moyes’ men were undeterred by City’s immediate response after the restart as they continued to have success on the counter and from set-pieces.
West Ham’s response made for fantastic viewing, with both keepers being drawn into excellent saves.
However, City’s pressure eventually told with West Ham’s deep-lying backline being breached by some Julian Alvarez magic. Silva poked home the go-ahead goal, and the Hammers then looked vulnerable to conceding more, with Haaland grabbing his obligatory goal late on to remove any doubt about the result.
GK: Alphonse Areola – 7/10 – A fine showing. While there was some flapping from crosses, Areola’s shot-stopping was imperious throughout.
RB: Vladimir Coufal – 5/10 – Had a tough time defensively up against Doku, but teed up Ward-Prowse for the opener with a delicate cross.
CB: Kurt Zouma – 7/10 – Stuck to his task well for the most part and came close to giving his side the lead in the second half with a pinpoint header.
CB: Nayef Aguerd – 6/10 – Perhaps should’ve scored in the opening exchanges, but there was no conviction behind his header. Didn’t cover himself in glory for Bernardo’s goal.
LB: Emerson – 6/10 – Wasn’t overly busy, which is a testament to the left-back’s fairly serene showing.
DM: Edson Alvarez – 7/10 – Excellent before he was forced off just after the hour. Alvarez was a stable presence at the base of West Ham’s midfield.
RM: Jarrod Bowen – 5/10 – Bowen didn’t have the impact the London Stadium faithful would’ve desired. Just couldn’t get into the game.
CM: Tomas Soucek – 5/10 – It was almost as if he was merely included to provide a set-piece threat and nothing else.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 7/10 – JWP’s hot streak continued on Saturday as he broke free and nodded home West Ham’s opener. Set-piece delivery was once again excellent.
LM: Lucas Paqueta – 7/10 – West Ham grew into the game once Paqueta started to get his foot on the ball. Worked hard out of possession and offered quality when the hosts sought to retain the ball.
ST: Michail Antonio – 5/10 – His chances were limited, but he had a great opportunity to give the hosts the lead again in the second half. Shame his touch let him down.
SUB: Mohammed Kudus (67′ for Antonio) – 6/10
SUB: Said Benrahma (68′ for Alvarez) – 5/10
SUB: Danny Ings (86′ for Coufal) – N/A
SUB: Thilo Kehrer (86′ for Soucek) – N/A
Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski (GK), Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Fornals, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Angelo Ogbonna.
David Moyes – 7/10 – It was always going to be a tough task to keep City at bay for the entirity, but West Ham competed well against the best team in the world for large swathes of Saturday’s game.
GK: Ederson – 7/10 – Made a couple of huge interventions in the second half; first rushing out to deny Antonio and then denying Zouma with an excellent save.
RB: Kyle Walker – 7/10 – Didn’t have much success in a high and wide position, so Guardiola adjusted his role and brought him inside where he had a greater influence.
CB: Ruben Dias – 7/10 – Standard Dias. Rarely flummoxed.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 6/10 – There were a couple of times when Antonio got the better of him and Akanji surrendered a corner.
LB: Josko Gvardiol – 6/10 – Stellar in possession, but West Ham had success breaking down Gvardiol’s flank, especially in the first half.
CM: Rodri – 8/10 – These sorts of displays are simply the majestic norm for the Spaniard.
CM: Bernardo Silva – 7/10 – Wasn’t the most influential of Bernardo showings until he crept in behind a deep West Ham defence and poked the ball beyond Areola to give City the lead.
AM: Julian Alvarez – 8/10 – While Doku was a menace out wide, City turned to Alvarez to pick the lock in central areas which the Argentine did on multiple occasions. Who needs Kevin De Bruyne?
RW: Phil Foden – 6/10 – Foden had a couple of nice sequences, but the hosts’ compact block made it tough for him. Removed midway through the second half.
ST: Erling Haaland – 7/10 – After spurning four great chances, Haaland eventually got his goal late on.
LW: Jeremy Doku – 8/10 – Turned the ball over for West Ham’s opener, but was a constant threat throughout and his fine finish restored parity at the start of the second period. Such an exciting player to watch.
SUB: Matheus Nunes (68′ for Phil Foden) – 6/10
SUB: Sergio Gomez (90′ for Doku) – N/A
SUB: Rico Lewis (95′ for Haaland) – N/A
SUB: Nathan Ake (95′ for Gvardiol) – N/A
SUB: Oscar Bobb: (95′ for Bernardo) – N/A
Subs not used: Scott Carson (GK), Stefan Ortega (GK), Kalvin Phillips.
Pep Guardiola – 8/10 – City were dominant against a tough West Ham side, with Pep’s half-time chat perhaps inspiring a quick response after half-time. Also made a savvy tactical move involved Walker’s positioning.