Agüero nails Hammers with ease
By Jack Mumford
A Sergio Agüero inspired victory ended City’s dismal away form in an impressive 3-1 triumph at the Boleyn Ground yesterday evening. Pellegrini’s men had already lost away at Cardiff City and Aston Villa with their only previous away point this season coming at Stoke City in stark contrast to their 100% home record. This record never looked likely to continue though as City enjoyed near total domination over Sam Allardyce’s industrious, if not particularly exciting, West Ham side.
In the first game after the international break that was successful for so many of City’s players and with an apparent lack of defenders to pick from, the Chilean manager chose Javi Garcia over Joleon Lescott to accompany Matija Nastasić at the back in perhaps the biggest surprise in the team. Pablo Zabaleta was also rested as him and the now fit Micah Richards rotate in the right back role.
Yaya Touré and Fernandinho continued in the holding roles they have held for the majority of this season. Samir Nasri and David Silva added the attacking influence to the midfield with Agüero and Álvaro Negredo up front. The formation appeared 4-4-2 but in truth City were much more fluid as Silva, Nasri and Agüero all filled pockets of space throughout the pitch.
City were the dominant team from the off as West Ham’s strikerless set up allowed the defence to bring the ball forward unpressured, meaning the midfield could occupy more dangerous areas of the pitch.
This is exactly how the first goal was scored as Fernandinho took the ball off the defenders to slide a cutting through ball past the heart of the West Ham defence, it initially appeared the pass was intended for Negredo but the “Beast” let the ball roll past him superbly and Agüero had a one on one with Jussi Jääskeläinen. This was the kind of chance the little Argentinian never misses and he didn’t disappoint this time, finding the bottom left corner.
Almost immediately afterwards a knockdown from the head of Negredo gave Agüero another chance, this time he managed to find Jääskeläinen's hands perfectly. It didn’t take long for that man again to pick up the ball and drive at the petrified West Ham defence who backed off until the prolific striker shot and Silva somehow failed to get a toe onto the rebound that came off the Finnish goalkeeper.
City’s second goal came early in the second half after a smattering of chances for both sides with Jääskeläinen remaining the busier goalkeeper. Agüero wriggled away from two defenders before being taken down. He left the free kick just wide of the 18 yard box to David Silva who crossed the ball into a dangerous area. Perhaps preoccupied by having to mark several taller men at the far post, West Ham ignored 25 year old Agüero who leapt brilliantly to head a looping ball powerfully into the top corner of the West Ham goal.
The two goal cushion meant City almost began to relax and for the next few minutes West Ham put pressure on the makeshift defence. They broke through as a scramble in the 18 yard box flicked up, creating confusion in the City defence and the ball eventually came down between Javi Garcia and Joe Hart where Ricardo Vaz Te was waiting to connect superbly with an overhead kick to leave England’s number one with no chance.
The game could have been difficult from this point but apart a few crosses which were expertly dealt with by Nastasić or the improving Garcia, West Ham never really looked like scoring again. Instead, Pellegrini’s decision to take off Negredo for Kolarov proved pivotal as it meant David Silva could play much more centrally and therefore have an easier link up with the in-form Agüero.
The third goal came through this partnership as the Argentinian squared up Tomkins leaving us all expecting a shot however he rolled it back to the unmarked Silva who dropped his shoulder to avoid Winston Reid’s attempted block and curl the ball inside of the far post. This was the kind of finish we all hope he could do more often in order for him to become the complete player.
City saw the game out comfortably to earn Manuel Pellegrini’s first away Premier League win and look in good shape for the trip to Moscow on Wednesday to play struggling CSKA in the Champions League.
Below are highlights from the 3-1 win: