Manchester City's 3-1 Victory Shows Why Hammers Should Never Have Poked the Bear
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Manchester City's poor traveling form in the Premier League thus far this season had West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce feeling positively flush about his side's prospects against the Sky Blues at Upton Park.
West Ham United's Twitter feed was great bulletin-board material for Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini should he have wished to post any:
SA: "In terms of results they've been a bit Jekyll and Hyde, fantastic at home and not won away."— West Ham United FC (@whufc_official) October 19, 2013
SA: "From our point of view we've got to look forward and be encouraged by their results."— West Ham United FC (@whufc_official) October 19, 2013
In fairness, Manchester City brought this sort of pre-match cheek from Allardyce on themselves. When you lose leads in the second half in places like Cardiff City and Aston Villa, just about any side will welcome your arrival.
After just short of an hour, Sergio Aguero's brace was making Allardyce's heavy talk seem as empty as the bubbles floating through Upton Park at the interval.
Ricardo Vaz Te's well-taken overhead kick pulled West Ham within a goal in the 58th minute, though, and suddenly the ghosts of Manchester City's defensive breakdowns-past were whistling around the pitch again.
There was a familiar culprit on Vaz Te's goal, too. Stand-in centre-back Javi Garcia ended the play that culminated in Vaz Te's goal with a now shopworn look of frustration and confusion.
Every time Manchester City are without Vincent Kompany (as they were today), a bet against a Joe Hart clean sheet has a great chance to pay.
So concerned was Pellegrini about West Ham's resurgent form in the run-up to and after Vaz Te's marker that he substituted Alvaro Negredo—who was active all day and had rung one off the bar moments earlier—for the steadying presence of Aleksandar Kolarov.
Then, James Milner came on for Samir Nasri. If you did not know any better, you would think that Roberto Mancini was calling these substitutions in from a control center in Turkey.
Could you blame Pellegrini, though? He left his attacking side out for a quarter hour after the lead was halved, and they did not extend it.
The Hammers dominated play for ten minutes late in the second half but never found a final pass or a sharp finish.
Eventually, Allardyce's charges seemed to tire from chasing the equalizer. Once they did, Manchester City regained possession in earnest.
Then, David Silva—to this observer, Manchester City's co-man of the match with Aguero—potted a gorgeous left-footed strike in the 80th minute and provided the insurance goal City so badly needed.
What grade would you give this Manchester City performance?
Ultimately, this Manchester City performance confirmed what their form to date in the Premier League has proven.
Manchester City are poor on defense without Kompany, and as such, their only real hope of winning matches (especially away from home) is to pile up enough goals to make their inevitable defensive failings survivable.
But here is the thing: Manchester City have so much offensive firepower and so much speed that they were never going to continue a "one point out of nine" road pace.
In retrospect, then, one wonders whether Allardyce's mouthy assessment of Manchester City's road form really did his club any good.
It is always fun to poke the bear, until the bear wakes up.
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