|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Gabriel Jesus off the mark as Manchester City rout West Ham again
Dominic Fifield at the London Stadium
Date Published Wednesday 1 February 2017 21.48 GMT
If this was a glimpse of Manchester City’s future then the Premier League, other than perhaps West Ham United, should rejoice at the thrill that is to come. A team who had run riot in the FA Cup at this expansive venue a little under a month ago merrily put the same opponents to the sword again to surge to within a point of second place. Their authority was hardly tested, their brilliance on the ball illuminating the Olympic Park. How they must crave visits to this corner of the capital.
Pep Guardiola had initially paced his huge technical area here but, once his team had allied rhythm with incision, he chose to sit back and relax. A few seats along shivered Sergio Agüero for all but the last 17 minutes of play, the Argentinian descending deeper into his bench coat while a new star rose to prominence out on the pitch. Gabriel Jesus, recently arrived from Palmeiras for £27m, was at the heart of everything City mustered, tormenting befuddled West Ham players at will until Sam Byram belatedly determined that the only way to stop the teenager was to clatter him. He had left a lasting impression by then.
Already the Brazilian looks the successor in waiting to Agüero, the very notion that he will improve in the years ahead enough to reduce defenders to gibbering wrecks. He operated as the nominal central pivot in what felt like a front five here, sporting gloves and a short-sleeved shirt with the ball almost invariably glued to his instep. He was utterly irrepressible on his first Premier League start.
“You never know [how a player will adapt],” said Guardiola. “It’s like a water melon. You have to open it up and see. But we knew the potential was good, he’s talented and so aggressive about wanting to be a good player, and that helps a lot. He has dreams about what he wants to do in his future career. He wants to become something in world football and we’re going to try and get it [to be] for us.”
There was snarl in his tackling, energy in his tracking back and jaw-dropping skill in his forays forward. The forward schooled at Palmeiras already looks an inspired signing. Agüero, a world-class talent, will believe he still has plenty to offer this team but his cameo at the end seemed an afterthought. It is not quite a changing of the guard yet but there have not been many occasions over his own City career where the Argentinian has played second fiddle.
“Sergio remains such an important player for us,” stressed Guardiola. “We cannot achieve our goals without his contribution. But those three guys – Leroy [Sané], Gabriel and Raheem [Sterling] – are the future for this club. The average age is around 20. You don’t see strikers as young as that at big European clubs at the moment.”
West Ham looked in awe of that front trio, supplied eagerly by David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne from slightly deeper berths, and disintegrated from the moment they were first pierced. Sané almost matched Jesus at every surge, dispossessing dawdling West Ham players whenever they had the temerity to take a breath in enemy territory and humiliating Byram and José Fonte whenever he could isolate them one on one. He had nutmegged the former and glided away from the Portuguese midway through the first half, Fonte reduced to a trudge as Sané’s centre flicked off Darren Randolph and was tapped in by David Silva at the far post.
That reward came four minutes after City had gone ahead, Aaron Cresswell’s aimless pass in-field collected by De Bruyne who sprinted downfield, exchanged passes with Jesus, then side-footed in beyond the static goalkeeper.
The teenager was never likely to be denied his own reward for long. He had just summoned a gloriously paced pass inside Cresswell for Sterling to collect – De Bruyne air-kicked at the resultant cross – when Pedro Obiang surrendered the ball wastefully to Sané. The rat-a-tat exchange which ensued led to the German and Sterling slicing West Ham apart, with Jesus converting at the far post. Throw in Yaya Touré’s penalty, after Fonte had capped a dismal debut by tripping Sterling, and this was a thrashing every bit as comprehensive as that inflicted in the FA Cup a little under four weeks ago.
Not that Guardiola considered it the prelude to a renewed title challenge. The gap from Chelsea, represented by their manager, Antonio Conte, in the directors’ box here, remains a gaping 10 points. “Only Chelsea can lose the Premier League,” added the City manager, who had dropped Claudio Bravo to the bench.
“Look at how many they’ve lost in the last 16. They’re not going to lose four or five in the games they have left. It’s a mistake to think about them when you are 10 points behind. We’ve been inconsistent and to qualify for the Champions League and fight until the end, you have to make a good run of victories, otherwise it will be impossible. We are not thinking about big goals because the gap is too much.”
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, MATCH ZONE AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE FROM LONDON STADIUM
WEST HAM (4-2-3-1): Randolph 5; Byram 5, Reid 6, Fonte 5, Cresswell 4; Noble 5, Obiang 4 (Snodgrass 64 min, 5); Fegouli 4 (Fernandes 64, 5), Antonio 6, Lanzini 5; Carroll 5 (Fletcher 79)
Subs not used: Adrian, Collins, Calleri, Quina
Booked: Obiang, Lanzini, Carroll
Manager: Slaven Bilic 5
MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3): Caballero 6; Sagna 6, Stones 6, Otamendi 6, Kolarov 6; De Bruyne 8 (Fernandinho 68, 5), Toure 6, Silva 8.5 (Delph 80); Sterling 8 (Aguero 73, 5), Jesus 7.5, Sane 8
Subs not used: Bravo, Kompany, Zabaleta, Jesus Navas
Goals: De Bruyne 17, Silva 21, Jesus 39, Toure 67 pen
Booked: Jesus, De Bruyne, Sterling
Manager: Pep Guardiola 7
Referee: Kevin Friend 6