The Ped Pre-Season Report City 3-0 West Ham United
City drew the curtain on their pre-season activity with another emphatic destruction of a Premier League team in Iceland yesterday. We are aware that in recent seasons, West Ham United have suffered at the hands of the Blues, the exception being Bilic`s first season in charge, when he had created a robust team designed to knock City around.
But in Reykjavic yesterday, evening with Guardiola reject Joe Hart guarding the pipes, the Irons were once again frequent visitors to the back of their net leaving Guardiola with a selection headache as he prepares his charges for their visit to the seaside when they are hosted by Premier League newcomers, Brighton & Hove Albion next weekend.
There was a no-nonsense look about City and a starting line-up which could easily be the one that kicks things off on the south coast next week. Then consider the fact that the bench contained Walker, Bernardo Silva, Sterling and Fernandinho and you see the extent of Pep's headache.
The game had really only just begun when Danilo appeared wide right and found De Bruyne lurking in the corner of the penalty area. His first time pass behind the Hammers back line discovered Jesus unattended and as Hart went near post, the Brazilian rather easily teased the ball in the opposite direction to put the Blues ahead. Great start.
Shortly thereafter, a similar move down the other flank saw Sane sprint into space and lay it off to David Silva, for some reason sporting a shaven head, whose first time pass found Aguero who turned on the proverbial sixpence but saw his shot rebound off Juggling Joe, this time the ball heading for safety.
The De Bruyne - Jesus axis was causing West Ham issues throughout the half and Jesus went close again on twenty minutes. It was similar on the opposite side where Silva and Sane linked well with the German turning on the after-burners more or less at will.
Much has been scripted about the threat of Walker and Mendy, but I like the look of Danilo who also got in on the act and should have probably scored ahead of the half hour and ahead of the Hammers first real look at Ederson.
Sane was in electric form as he skipped in, out and around an Irons back line which included the writer's former hero Pablo Zabaleta and almost set up Aguero, who couldn't grow enough to turn Sane's cross into the net.
Ahead of the break we finally saw why Guardiola acquired Ederson. The young Brazilian spotted some danger going on about 30 yards from goal. He raced from the safety of his area, challenged a West Ham attacker for a high ball, chested it down, took it into space in the left back position and played a tight accurate pass into the path of Sane.
At the other end there was just about time for Aguero to play in the overlapping Danilo who brought a useful save out of Hart at the near post. Otamendi couldn't cash-in from De Bruyne's resultant corner.
How West Ham got to half time at only 0-1 could well be a pre-season mystery and for the second half they introduced their new goalscoring phenomenon, Chicharito, last seen on the Stretford exit chute. Would he make a difference?
Indeed the first blood of the second half saw a decent West Ham break reach Fernendes who tried to out fox Ederson, but found him a difficult man to beat as he saved easily. This was however only going to be the prologue - Aguero putting City further ahead a few minutes later.
When the second goal arrived it was a sheer delight to watch as Otamendi brought the ball over the half way line and played it out to Sane. His first time pass found Silva who clearly had a sixth sense as to where Aguero was as he played it blind into the path of the master predator. Sergio didn't need asking twice as he promptly dispatched the ball past his former colleague, Hart.
Cue the changes and immediately six changes appeared, keeping the fourth official busy for an age. One of these was Sterling who has scored some tasty goals himself in the pre-season.
City were now almost in exhibition mode as they continued to find space with neat simple passing and West Ham struggled to keep City in their sights. Jesus went close as well as others, including Silva who brought a smart save out of Hart.
Within seconds City were at it again. This time the right hand side was deployed as Walker and Fernandinho combined to play in the youngster Foden on the edge of the box. Ogbonna somehow blocked the shot and the ball span out to Sterling who couldn't miss. Once again he was in the right place at the right time to increase his pre-season tally. He will need to maintain this vein of scoring into the season proper because it looks to me as if everybody's door is getting knocked on right now!
That was the end of the scoring, but West Ham did get a couple of late chances, one actually falling to Hernandez who elected to play a poor pass to Snodgrass instead of reducing the arrears. Ayew thought he had done just that with ten minutes left, but the referee took a different view of his robbery process of Mangala.
In amongst this the Foden-Sterling partnership almost yielded goal number four but Hart was equal to Sterling's header.
This was a very positive performance by City playing the kind of football that, if sustained, will have the customers drooling as the season progresses. There is a clear Guardiola stamp on the way City are set up and maybe now everyone is starting to get to know their job in this all action eleven. There is no doubt that with the quality at the manager's disposal, nobody will be an automatic choice this season because the players in waiting are just as good as those selected, including the young guns standing in line.
A week to go...