West Ham vs. Manchester City: Winners and Losers from Premier League
Manchester City twice had to come from behind to secure a 2-2 draw at West Ham United on Saturday.
Enner Valencia scored twice for the Hammers at Upton Park, including breaking the deadlock after just 53 seconds.
However, a brace of goals from Sergio Aguero made sure the visitors returned to Manchester with a point.
He converted a penalty after being fouled by Carl Jenkinson in the first half, while the striker's second saw him pop up in the right place to convert a loose ball in the area.
The point lifts Manchester City into second spot in the table, although third-placed Arsenal have a game in hand. West Ham, meanwhile, sit in sixth position.
Here, Bleacher Report breaks down the winners and losers from the top-flight fixture.
Winner: Sergio Aguero
Not for the first time, Manchester City leaned heavily on Aguero to get them out of a tricky situation.
The forward has had his injury issues during the season—according to Gerard Brand of Sky Sports, he has sat 11 league games, adding to the 27 missed over the past two campaigns—but he once again showed his value with a pair of goals against the Hammers.
Sachin Nakrani wrote in his report for the Guardian: "Aguero scored either side of half-time, with his second goal rescuing a draw for his team that they hardly deserved."
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini praised Aguero, per the Premier League's official Twitter feed: "I think Aguero played very well, he scored 2 goals, won a penalty, hit the post. I think he's 100% now"
Loser: Manchester City's Defence
It is often edge-of-the-seat entertainment with Manchester City.
They can be a joy to watch going forward, but when it comes to defending, they are best viewed from behind a cushion. For their supporters, a 90-minute match must be a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Yaya Toure—named captain for the game—was beaten far too easily down the left wing by Cheikhou Kouyate, whose cross eventually led to Valencia breaking the deadlock, inside the very first minute.
If that was bad, West Ham's second goal was even worse.
Michail Antonio's long throw into the box caught Nicolas Otamendi on the wrong side of Valencia, allowing the forward to prod the ball beyond goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Winner: Enner Valencia
Valencia set the tone for a pulsating contest by breaking the deadlock inside the opening minute.
According to OptaJoe on Twitter, his goal was the second quickest of the Premier League season—Bournemouth's Matt Ritchie had scored after 49 seconds in a game against Tottenham Hotspur.
Still, Valencia made it four goals in three Premier League games with his brace against Manchester City. According to WhoScored.com on Twitter, before then he had failed to net in 17 straight appearances.
The Ecuadorian's second owed much to the visitors' slack defending, but Valencia still had to be in the right place to seize on Manchester City's soft centre.
Loser: Carl Jenkinson
Carl Jenkinson had an eventful 13 minutes on the field for West Ham.
The on-loan Arsenal full-back was guilty of bringing down Aguero inside the area, allowing the Manchester City striker to level the scores from the penalty spot.
In the process of bringing down Aguero, Jenkinson picked up an injury. He hobbled on briefly before being replaced by Sam Byram, who had only arrived on Jan. 20 on a permanent deal from Leeds United.
The substitute did an admirable job on his Premier League debut, even if he was ravaged by cramp in the closing minutes.
Winner: Dimitri Payet
Dimitri Payet once again showed why West Ham bagged a bargain in signing the Frenchman for £10.5 million, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
The former Marseille playmaker was a constant thorn in Manchester City's side, outshining visiting duo Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in the process.
His delivery from set pieces is a valuable asset for the Hammers. Had it not been for a wonderful save by visiting goalkeeper Joe Hart, Payet would have had found the net with a curling free-kick in the first half.
Hammers manager Slaven Bilic said of Payet after the game, per Adam Jones of talkSPORT: "When he is on the pitch, it’s not that he is great and confident, but he makes all the other players better."
Loser: Manchester City's Title Hopes
It is easy to forget that Manchester City reeled off five successive Premier League wins at the start of the season.
They didn't concede a goal as they flew out of the blocks. But the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Injuries to key duo Aguero and Vincent Kompany have not helped their progress since those opening weeks, but Pellegrini's side are still firmly in the race for the title at the start of 2016.
Yet it is hard to deny they are underachieving for the quality they possess in their squad.
Chief football writer Sam Wallace said in the Telegraph: "There is a crisis at their neighbours at Old Trafford, and there are much weaker squads than the one at Manuel Pellegrini’s disposal, but all the same, you have to wonder why Manchester City have settled for such mediocrity as the title race starts to reach a gallop."
A point at Upton Park is not a bad result, particularly when you consider West Ham are themselves pushing for a top-four finish, but City have now managed just one league away win since Sept. 12.
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