It was never going to be easy at Upton Park.
This is not the “soon-to-be-relegated” Hammers squad of recent days. West Ham is off to a fine start this season, and they are generally difficult to deal with at home. They certainly attracted attention twice in the first twelve minutes, as Kevin Nolan had a valid goal disallowed for offside and Mohamed Diame just missed a rising strike.
As for City, is this the least interesting, least exciting unbeaten team ever? This match was pretty hard to watch. Grading this fixture for City’s side was a challenge.
Players are graded on a scale of 1 (better had he stayed in Manchester) to 5 (Best of the Sky Blues this day).
Joe Hart: Without Hart, City would be a slightly better than average Premiership side. He was very solid again in this one. Some of the saves he makes at this point seem to be out of muscle memory, meaning that it is another week with another series of misplays from his defense, leaving him to answer the attack alone. 4.
Kolo Toure: Things like Micah Richards’ injury and the extra time Pablo Zabaleta was given to heal this week do not seem that troubling until you see that Kolo is starting on the road. Oh boy. You take no joy in seeing him go down for a few moments in the 77th minute, but before the minor injury, he was getting boat-raced by a dribbling Matthew Jarvis. Kolo will not much want to watch that in film study. 2.
Matija Nastasic: Watching Nastasic week to week is becoming hazardous to Roberto Mancini’s health, not to mention that of City’s fans. There is no crime in not being ready to play at the highest level at 19 years of age. But that does not make it acceptable to have the kid learn on the job, either. 2.
Vincent Kompany: The captain’s form has come into some question lately, but in a match that was officiated in a manner that permitted physical play, Kompany gave as good as he got. 3.
Gael Clichy: Is it good that save for a couple of forward runs, I did not really notice him? Sort of hard to say. It is not like Clichy was turning the ball over all day or out of position. Neither was he particularly effective. 2.
Samir Nasri: He is not a defender of any great talent. If he is not creating chances with three top-level strikers on the pitch, it is hard to say what his contribution is. 2.
Yaya Toure: Demonstrating improvement from last week to this week, Yaya seemed more fluid and to be playing with that body control that at times makes him look like he is moving at a different speed than everyone else. 3.
Gareth Barry: To be fair to Barry, he was not even slated to play in this match until James Milner became a late scratch. Unfortunately, Barry went out and played like a last-minute substitute. Some of the Hammers’ best chances came with Barry standing by, seemingly uncertain of where he ought to have been. 2.
Carlos Tevez: He was sensational against Swansea City last week, and his work rate and fitness are still noteworthy. He might say he had opportunities that went begging today. He would be right. 3.
Mario Balotelli: You almost find yourself watching Balo these days like a parent watching his child, rooting for him to put it together and play up to his ability. But in the end, chances like the one he had in the 33rd minute that he literally kicked away when a header was the only sensible play, or the whiff from point-blank range in the 50th minute, cannot be excused. Mancini was correct to take him off in the 69th minute for Sergio Aguero, and Balotelli was (again) wrong to be petulant about being taken off. 2.
Edin Dzeko: Given an earned start, Dzeko was active though not overly dangerous. Most troubling was his inability to get onto the end of any of the seven corner kicks and numerous free kicks City enjoyed. The difference between Dzeko when he is on and Dzeko when he is off is stark. This was not really an “on” day. 3.
Sergio Aguero (69th minute for Balotelli): Brought on to spark City’s languid offense, his presence actually had little bearing on City’s striking efforts. 2.
Javi Garcia (84th minute for Tevez): Garcia did not play for long and had a minimal effect on the match. No grade.
Scott Sinclair (90th minute for Nasri): He was essentially brought on only to kill time, as by the 90th minute, Mancini seemed happy enough to take the point on the road and get out of Upton Park. No grade.