Premier League
Manchester City 3-0 West Ham United 

Wednesday, 3rd May 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

A spirited performance was only enough to keep the score down at the Etihad this evening as West Ham were beaten 3-0 by league leaders Manchester City.

The Hammers were solid and disciplined for the majority of the game, and had kept their hosts at arm's length in a scoreless first half, but they were punished for errors in the second 45 as Ake, Haaland and Foden scored the goals.

David Moyes was without three key players as Rice, Soucek and Aguerd were sent home with a sickness bug on the afternoon of the game.

His makeshift 11 stuck to their task and worked hard, but even the slightest slip-up is punished by City, and you can play well and get slaughtered by a team with the quality they have.

In terms of incident, it was not a game full of them. West Ham's deep defensive line and rigid structure in front of it meant they left little space to play through and were always ready to cover over and help out in defensive battles.

Pep Guardiola's teams are patient, they do not panic, and it is why they have the mark of champions about them. Whilst Arsenal fell to pieces when West Ham got one back against them, City were confident, and comfortable with it. They will have always believed they would score.

It will be tough to know what the manager's plan was before the trio was withdrawn, but he went into kick off with a back five. Fornals kept his place over Benrahma, whilst Cresswell and Kehrer came in for Aguerd and Soucek.

It was interesting that Fornals was given the nod over Benrahma once more, having been withdrawn at half-time against Palace at the weekend. The Spaniard was much-improved, and his discipline in the press and recovering to defend was important to how West Ham played.

Of course, it was always going to be a night where West Ham did more defending than attacking. The home side dominated the ball, but they were frustrated by West Ham's shape.

The Hammers capitulated against Palace, looking far from the team David Moyes coaches. Here, they embodied their manager, working hard, defending well and limiting the dangerous things their opponents could do with the ball.

When they did create openings, they found a switched on defence that reacted well and a goalkeeper whose concentration kept him ready to dart and dive at shots, when required. An early low save to a Mahrez effort from the edge was a great example, the goalkeeper doing well to make the save after the ball came through a crowd, and to save it with a strong hand.

The Hammers seemed to have learned from their defeat at the London Stadium earlier in the season, back when teams were unsure quite how Haaland would change how City play. There was more attention paid to how they could quickly and clinically counter or pounce on transition.

It was all Manchester City on the attack, but their chances were far from ideal, their opportunities always uncomfortable in some way.

At the other end, West Ham may have caused more problems had the referee remembered his cards. Bowen, Fornals and Antonio were a decent counter threat and not overawed by their opponents, whilst Paqueta just seemed to get more ambitious as he came up against City's superstars.

The away's side best chance of the half, even of the game, came from a Coufal long throw down the right of the area. Bowen sprinted behind the defence, took it down and ran at goal from the byline.

From a tight angle and on his weaker foot, he seemed to try and hit across goal where Emerson was coming in, but all he could muster was a strike into the goalkeeper Ortega's chest. It bounced to safety.

It woke City up a little bit, and in the next three minutes they were very close twice.

A counter from the Bowen chance was soon at the other end. Grealish was in acres of space on the left as City moved it over from the right. He drove into the area and at Coufal, shifting it to the side to shoot, forcing a very good low save at his near post from Fabianski.

A couple minutes later, they couldn't have got any closer.

This time it was Rodri, bursting forward through the middle and exchanging a quick pass with Haaland on the edge of the box. His shot was passed to Fabianski's left and beat the goalkeeper, but not the post.

It hit the inside of the post, rolled across goal and then wide of the other post and off for a goal kick.

They continued to probe, and Kehrer's defensive awareness soon stopped a massive chance as Rodri ran off his man in the box and received a pass. The German saw the danger, covering across to his right and calmly stealing it away.

It was enough to take the sides in level at 0-0 at half-time.

That resolve may have carried them through the first half, but it broke pretty quickly in the second.

It was only five minutes in when City scored.

West Ham had had a little possession in the City half, but a sloppy Cresswell pass suddenly turned that in a breakaway.

It resulted in Downes making a lunging challenge as a City runner drove to the area, giving away an avoidable freekick.

The line held firm just inside the box, but just as Mahrez went to strike it, Ogbonna dropped deep to match the runners at the back post.

Had he stayed still, Ake would have been called offside. But the Italian dropped back alone, not only keeping the man onside, but he missed the header anyway. It left Ake with a header from six yards, which he powered into the back of the net, breaking the resistance and taking any pressure away.

West Ham didn't exactly accept their fate from here out, but they never looked like scoring.

They could have faced a penalty had the referee been a little harsher on Kehrer. The defender made a lunging challenge from the side in his own box to tackle Haaland, going through the man to get the ball, but the touch was deemed enough to save him.

Coufal was soon forced off with a hamstring injury after stretching to get a cross in. Johnson replaced him, and soon Ings was brought on to replace Antonio.

About five minutes after his introduction, he lost the ball unnecessarily and it led to City's second goal.

He lost it under little pressure in the City half, passing back to nobody. It came to Grealish, who ran forward and then played a pass behind the West Ham backline.

It got Haaland in, the cyborg sprinting in behind, getting onto the ball in the box.

Fabianski rushed out, and whilst he was smart to not dive in, Haaland just assessed his options and decided to chip it over the goalkeeper. He did it perfectly to score his 35th league goal of the season.

It deflated any competitive edge out of the game, and really the only joy for West Ham in the second half was watching Paqueta dance through City players, bring out the skills and play with a confidence none of his teammates could match.

There was soon a third, a corner headed out to the edge volleyed back at goal by Foden. It hit Emerson, diverted into the middle of the goal and left Fabianski stranded as he had followed the original effort. It flew in, put a nice bow on top of the Manchester City victory. It was a harsh punishment for a West Ham team who had done a lot right, but City will score more against teams who play even better.

There was a late half-chance for Paqueta that was saved well, but the victory for West Ham was in keeping it to just three. Considering the way they had conceded goals against Crystal Palace at the weekend, only letting in three here was not all bad. The damage to the goal difference could have been much worse.

It was an 18th defeat of the season, but a game West Ham fans would be happy to write-off now and move on. Somehow, it was quite a heartening 3-0 loss, which is odd.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Not sure you can blame him on any goal, whilst he made some good saves.

Thilo Kehrer
One silly sliding challenge on Haaland aside - he was lucky not to give away a penalty - this was a solid showing from Kehrer.

Angelo Ogbonna
That error for the first goal is atrocious defending. Not only has he dropped early and behind everyone, but he misses his header, too.

Aaron Cresswell
Secure in defence, solid passing.

Vladimir Coufal
Did well until his innocuous injury. Seems to enjoy playing against Grealish.

Lucas Paqueta
Realistically, it?EUR(TM)s a 7/10 performance. But in a game where West Ham were drilled and solid, but not that exciting, Paquet?? looked confident on the ball where others didn?EUR(TM)t, and added in sprinkles of exciting skill to get the fans off their feet.

Flynn Downes
Silly foul for the freekick that leads to the first goal. Couldn?EUR(TM)t really do much but chase shadows.

Emerson Palmieri
Gets involved in some nice passing but can drift away from defensive responsibility.

Jarrod Bowen
Worked hard to be a defensive presence, get into the shape and work hard as the first line of defence. Did offer some threat.

Pablo Fornals
The right pick in a game where structure and discipline is important. Worked hard, pressed well and was also good in that first line of defence.

Michail Antonio
At moments, he broke away and caused issues with his running. City were not comfortable with him, and had the referee given the bookings he should have, things would have been harder.


Ben Johnson
(Replaced Coufal 62') Quiet but effective.

Danny Ings
(Replaced Antonio 67') It doesn?EUR(TM)t work, and neither does he.

Said Benrahma
(Replaced Bowen 79?EUR(TM)) A lovely pass for the late Paqueta chance.? Worked? hard.

Did not play.

Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski , Thilo Kehrer, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell , Vladimir Coufal, Lucas Paqueta, Flynn Downes, Emerson Palmieri , Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Michail Antonio.

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Manchester City: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: .

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: .