Manchester City thrashed West Ham, 3-0, to pick up a big win at home. Soccerlens had the action live! Click below to read the live-blog.
It’s been quite a summer for Manchester City. Clearly, they’ve taken the Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” to heart. After steering Manchester City to a great start last season (including a season-sweep of Manchester United), Sven Goran Eriksson‘s squad limped to the finish line. The protracted slump prompted speculation about Eriksson’s future, which clearly distracted the club throughout the last month of the season.
Despite support from most of his players, and almost all of Manchester City’s fans (their 9th place finish was their second best performance in the Premiership since an 8th place finish in 2004-2005), Eriksson left his club “via mutual consent” and Mark Hughes was hired as his replacement. Things looked good for Manchester City for a while. The team signed a highly regarded striker, Jo, from CSKA Moscow, as well as Chelsea cast-off Tal Ben Haim. Despite the turmoil, they were able to hold on to their stars Micah Richards, Elano, Richard Dunne, and Joe Hart. They were a finalist in the Ronaldinho sweepstakes (although, to be diplomatic, let’s just say that they were his ‘final’ choice), and now look set to acquire the talented Vincent Kompany from Hamburger SV.
Looks like they’ll need all the help they can get, especially since they got spanked during the opening week by Aston Villa and lost striker Valeri Bojinov to an Achilles injury. To make matters worse, they now have to deal with the additional distraction of their owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is a wanted man in his native Thailand, and is seeking asylum in Great Britain. I guess it could be worse. They could be owned by the Steinbrenners.
In contrast, things couldn’t have been quieter at West Ham. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. While they weren’t in danger of relegation the way they were the previous season, West Ham may have been the definition of mediocrity during the 2007-2008 season. They finished 10th, but never really competed for a European spot. They defeated Manchester United, but lost to the likes of Bolton and Sunderland. Additionally, they went through a stretch where they conceded 12 goals in three weeks.
In the offseason, they said goodbye to Freddie Ljungberg, Richard Wright, Bobby Zamora, and John Paintsil, and, depending on what paper you read, may be ready to sell Anton Ferdinand. They acquired Valon Behrami from Lazio, and secured the services of goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk. However, their biggest move may have been their decision to hold on to Dean Ashton. The talented Brit, who is a goal scoring machine when healthy, looked great during the club’s preseason tour. He also had a brace during West Ham’s opening week win against Wigan before leaving with an injury. If he can get fit again, then he should be one of the top forwards in the Premiership this season.
In any event, this match should be a good one. Both of these clubs desperately want to finish in the top half of the table this season. Time to see what these two teams are made of….
Manchester City: Hart, Corluka, Richards, Ben-Haim, Ball, Ireland, Kompany, Johnson, Petrov, Elano, Sturridge.
Subs: Evans, Gelson, Etuhu, Caicedo, Schmeichel, Hamann, Garrido.
No Jo for Man City, which is too bad. I was looking forward to seeing him in action. Instead, we’ll get plenty of Daniel Sturridge, who gets the start over Evans. Ball will come in for Garrido, and Etuhu will go to the bench so that Kompany will start, even though his transfer was only finalized a couple of days ago. Ben-Haim will be looking to make a good impression after flopping at Chelsea last season.
West Ham: Green, Behrami, Davenport, Upson, Neill, Faubert, Noble, Parker, Etherington, Ashton, Cole.
Subs: Lastuvka, Boa-Morte, Mullins, Reid, Bowyer, Spence, Sears.
No changes for West Ham from last week’s match with Wigan. As expected Frank Stallone – I mean Anton Ferdinand, will miss out, which should only give credence to those Sunderland rumors. Ashton, apparently, is fit enough to go after suffering that injury last week. He’ll link up, once again, with Cole.
90′ + 10 – Boa Morte wins another free kick and Faubert’s effort from about 25 yards or so is over the bar. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Great victory for Man City as they win, convincingly, at home. Thanks to everyone who followed along! Join me next week for more Premiership coverage!
90′ + 8 – Nothing doing on the free kick. Johnson tried to cross it to Sturridge in the box, but it was considerably off target.
90′ + 7 – Johnson gets taken down by Mullins on the right edge of the box.
90′ + 6 – Chance for West Ham as Mullins tries a through-ball to Ashton. Ashton’s offsides, though, and Mullins’ pass was well behind him anyway. Yep, it’s been that kind of day for the Hammers.
90′ + 5 – Ashton takes the free kick and it’s just over the cross bar.
90′ + 4 – Kompany fouls Boa Morte outside the box. West Ham will want to get at least a goal here. It won’t matter for this match, but it could do wonders for their confidence.
90′ + 1 – Yes, there will be 10 minutes of added time. Ireland gets a clear shot on goal, but he can’t keep his shot down and it’s well over the bar. Maybe he was trying to hit those conga-liners.
90′ – West Ham fans doing the conga-line in the stands. Why are you dancing? You guys know you got your butts kicked today, right? Maybe it’s an ironic celebration.
89′ – Boa Morte sends it to Faubert, who takes the shot on goal. Ireland deflects it out for the corner. Otherwise, that might have been trouble for Hart. Faubert sends in the corner, but City clear it away from the box.
88′ – Ashton gets the ball and plays it to Behrami. Sturridge knocks him to the ground on the edge of the box and it’s a free kick.
86′ – Sturridge with a poor turnover, but West Ham can’t do anything with it.
84′ – Etuhu is off the pitch and it looks like City will be down to 10 men. Maybe West Ham can get back in this game now?
82′ – Etuhu seems to pull his hamstring as he runs for the ball. This match has been a bloodbath. There’s going to be, like, 10 minutes of added time.
81′ – Long pass to Evans and he’s alone with the goalkeeper. Green comes out for the ball and Evans runs him over. That call will always go to the keeper, and this one is no different.
80′ – Johnson plays it to Ashton. He plays it to Parker, but Parker slips and falls before he can get the shot off. Alan Curbishley just wants this one to be over already.
77′ – Evans comes on for Elano (score twice, get yanked) and Etuhu comes on for Petrov.
76′ – GOAL! Ireland makes another great run into the box as he and Corluka do the give-and-go. Ireland centers to Elano, and Elano calmly slots it past Green. No, you are not experiencing deja-vu. They pretty much ran the same play as with the last goal.
74′ – Boa Morte will come on for Etherington.
73′ – City seem content to knock it around. West Ham is doing some of that as well, but with them, they have no choice since they can’t seem to do much in the way of quick attacks. To illustrate that, they try a long-pass to Ashton, and he’s called off-sides.
70′ – GOAL! Ireland gets a nice over-the-top pass from Corluka and he’s on-sides. He sends it back to Elano, who puts it past Green.
67′ – Faubert draws the foul. On the ensuing free kick, they play it long to Davenport deep in the box. Hart takes no chances and knocks it out for the corner. Nothing doing on the ensuing corner.
66′ – West Ham nearly catch City napping as Faubert and Etherington go on the attack. They have some miscommunication, though, and City dodges the bullet. It’s been that kind of day for West Ham.
65′ – GOAL! Petrov with the cross that deflects off Upson and goes right to an unmarked Sturridge. Sturridge uncorks a great shot that easily beats Green.
63′ – Kompany nearly makes a gaff as he tries to clear away Faubert’s cross and nearly puts it into the back of his own net. On the corner, City clears it.
62′ – Johnson tries to make a move into the box, but he loses possession.
61′ – Ireland wins a corner as his shot attempt goes off Neill. How many corners has Neill conceded today? Anyway, nothing doing on the corner, although Man City retain possesion and build up their attack.
60′ – Ashton gives it away and then fouls Corluka from behind. Temper temper, Dean.
59′ – Ashton gets fouled by Ben-Haim. Nothing doing on the ensuing free kick. Man City then go on the attack and Sturridge goes for the long-range shot that is well off the mark.
58′ – Man City on the attack. West Ham loses possession outside their box and Elano gets off a shot that’s saved by Green.
57′ – Free-kick for West Ham as Petrov fouls Behrami deep on the right flank. Hart comes out to intercept the free kick, though.
55′ – Richards is being stretchered off and Hamann has replaced him. Corluka’s back-pass to goal is sloppy and nearly goes out for a corner. Hart is able to save it and concedes a throw instead.
50′ – Richards is still down and it looks like he’ll be off as Hamann is warming up.
47′ – Richards and Ben-Haim have a meeting of the minds, and Richards gets the worse of it.
46′ – Man City kicks off and we’re off. Mullins is on for Sears, so it looks like a short day’s work for Sears.
Well, Man City threw everything but the kitchen sink at West Ham. They should be up by one or two goals right now. West Ham did nothing that entire half and look dead in the water, especially with Noble getting sent off. Ashton’s been getting no service as West Ham have been getting dominated in midfield. We’ll see what adjustments Curbishley and Co. make.
45′ + 3 – Kompany with an optimistic shot from long-range, but it’s well wide of the mark. Well, they didn’t buy him for his scoring. There’s the whistle, and we’re at halftime. Time to head to my fantasy draft.
45′ + 2 – On the corner, it goes out to Ireland, who’s in roughly the same place Johnson was earlier. Ireland shanks his kick well over the bar, though. Meanwhile, Mark Hughes looks frustrated on the bench. They can’t seem to buy a goal here in the first half. That will happen when your owner’s assets get frozen. Ha!
45′ + 1 – There will be three added minutes. I thought there would have been more, with all the injuries. Ben-Haim makes a great run into the box. It goes to Johnson, who’s at the edge of the box. He unleashes a hard shot that forces Green to make a great save.
44′ – Petrov gets mixed up with Behrami again and loses it out of bounds. He screams out a “NOOO!!!” for effect.
42′ – Petrov runs away from Behrami and lifts an enticing corner into the box. Elano goes for the header, but he can’t get the shot on target.
41′ – Nothing doing on the corner. It looks like the ball hit Neill on the arm. City wants a penalty, but they get no love from Webb.
40′ – Corluka makes a good move on the right flank and sends it to a cutting Johnson who has a good chance in the box. His shot is deflected out for a corner.
39′ – Elano’s free kick hits the wall. City have the man advantage now. Maybe that will open the floodgates for them.
38′ – Noble draws the yellow and he’s off.
37′ – Etherington gives it away and Sturridge makes a good run into the box. He loses it before he can get the shot, though. The ball goes out to Johnson and Noble slides in a reckless tackle that looks like it could have really done some damage.
35′ – Ireland sends it to Sturridge, and Sturridge turns to his left and shoots it from long-range. Green makes the save.
33′ – Noble slips and handles the ball, drawing a yellow. He was about to lose the ball in his own half of the field, so it was probably a smart booking for him to take. He is clutching his arm for effect, but he still gets a card anyway.
31′ – Cole is off and Sears is on for West Ham.
29′ – Fabio Capello is in the house. I wonder how many matches he watches a year. Definitely more than me. That’s for sure.
28′ – They play it short. Petrov sends it in to Sturridge, but there’s too much pace on it for Sturridge to do anything with it. West Ham try to spring the counter-attack, but they can’t get out of their own half of the field. Very poor effort, all around, from the Hammers so far.
27′ – West Ham on the attack now. Parker gets called for the foul on Kompany, though, so that’s that. Man City on the attack again. Petrov’s cross attempt is knocked out by Neill for a corner.
26′ – Petrov makes another good run down the left. He tries to cross it into the box, but West Ham send it out for a throw-in.
25′ – Ireland and Sturridge play the one-two in the box. Eventually, Sturridge takes the shot after making a nice move to create some space. He shoots it wide, though. City are definitely knocking on the door.
24′ – Nothing doing on the free kick as Petrov’s effort hits the wall this time.
23′ – Behrami gets booked for a running elbow on Petrov, who was burning rubber down the left flank.
22′ – Man City will have a good free kick opportunity here. They’re about 25 yards out or so. Petrov with a great strike that hits the far post. Wow. Green, who was cheating over to his right, didn’t even move a muscle on that one.
21′ – Now Elano is on the ground, after drawing a foul. What’s going on today? When did this turn into a rugby match?
20′ – Neill tries to thread it into Ashton, but it’s too long. Back on the attack, Ashton makes a nice move to get past Corluka on the left flank and tries to cross into the box. It’s too long, though, and Man City clears it.
19′ – Cole is back and is limping noticeably. Sears’ warmups are off, so it looks like he’ll be coming on.
16′ – Sturridge sends it in to Ireland in the box. Neill knocks it out again for the corner. Now Carlton Cole is down. Alan Curbishley is talking to Sears, so it might be it for Cole.
15′ – Davenport’s up, and he looks like he’ll be fine. Apparently, he’s had a history of neck injuries, so the medical staff didn’t want to take any chances. Of course, the Man City fans booed.
13′ – Several chances for Man City here. Petrov’s corner goes out to Ireland, who shoots to the far post. Davenport heads it away, but it goes right to Ben-Haim, and it deflects off Davenport and off the cross bar. It doesn’t go it, though, and West Ham, somehow, escapes. Davenport is on the ground, though, and he looks hurt.
12′ – Kompany sends a lovely long-ball to Ireland, who is on-sides. Ireland tries to cross, but Neill knocks it out for the corner. Petrov takes the corner, and it’s promptly knocked out, forcing another corner.
10′ – West Ham with some nice passing and ball-movement. Ben-Haim plays an over-the-top volley to Cole. Cole, again, can’t do anything with it and he has to send it out. In fairness to Cole, both times he’s gotten the ball, he’s had two guys on him.
8′ – Faubert tries the cross into the box, but he hits it into the cheap seats.
7′ – Cole gets the ball deep in the box, but he can’t really do anything with it. He tries to reset outside the box, but Man City clears it.
6′ – Etherington gets sprung for a run down the left flank. He tries the cross, but Corluka deflects it out for a throw. Elano goes down just outside the box, but Webb isn’t fooled. Yeah. It’s way too early for that. Try that in about 84 minutes or so and we’ll see what happens.
4′ – Sturridge with the shot, but Green is barely bothered by it.
3′ – Should be an interesting clash between two English goalkeepers who each think that they should be the #1 over “Calamity” James.
2′ – Richards and Ben-Haim collide early. Richards, who’s sporting the faux-hawk, rolls around a little, but is fine.
1′ – West Ham kicks off and here we go! Looks like Howard Webb is our ref. Be on the lookout for any extra-time penalties.
0′ – Here they come out of the tunnel.
0′ – Will Dean Ashton hit a hat trick? Will Kompany dazzle in his debut? Will the Man City owner get arrested during the middle of the match? We shall see…
Well, Manchester City were certainly the superior side today and deserved the points. City thoroughly dominated the match and West Ham never looked like they were in this match. If a couple of City’s chances had been converted in the first half, then this could have been a much bigger victory for them. Still, they’ll take this effort any day of the week. Elano, Petrov, Sturridge, and Ireland were especially effective on offense, generating numerous chances for City. The defense was stout as well, as Hart was barely tested all day long. Richards’ injury is a concern, but Mark Hughes has to be pleased with Kompany’s effort, as well Corluka’s and Ben-Haim’s.
Inconsistent play was what plagued West Ham last year, and this loss, especially after last week’s win, will do nothing to assuage those concerns. Ashton showed that he’s only as good as his service, and he didn’t get anything to work with today. Cole’s injury is nothing new for West Ham, but their lack of depth was clear for all to see in this match. There wasn’t much to be happy about, but Green played well and kept them in the game for much longer than they had any right to be. Still, West Ham need some of their players like Dyer and Bellamy to get healthy, and they need to shore up their defense. Otherwise it will be another long season for them.
Man of the Match:
There were plenty of candidates. Ireland played a great game and set up both of Elano’s goals. Petrov played well and really seemed to do whatever he wanted to right. Still, it’s hard to argue with two goals. Elano’s world class strikes put the game away, confirming his excellent early season form. He now has three goals in two matches.