Having already beaten Man City on the road, this game should have been a stroll in the park for the Hammers.
Back in the real world, we needed to be at our best to get anything from this game, and Slaven realized this by trusting his experienced players and putting people in the right holes. Song came in for Obiang, and Jenkinson at right back for the injured Tomkins. Reid made up the back 4 in favor of Ogbonna.
He left Valencia up top, and also left in Antonio on the right, in lieu of the just back from injury Moses.
This worked well, as Valencia carried on his recent scoring run, by netting after 1 minute from a deflected Kouyate cross. Happy days. Obviously the crowd was going crazy, but we all know the next 10 minutes are the most important. Just on the cusp of this window, Aguero burst through and only needed the slightest touch from Jenkinson to go down, and the penalty was given. I’ve seen them given and not, but the way the ref was looking after the “bigger” team, it was no surprise. So 1-1 after 10 minutes, game on.
The ref carried on making decisions in the opponents favor, including when Kouyate was scythed down by Toure when he was clear and the ref didn’t even give a free kick. Obviously any West Ham challenge was met with a free kick and a yellow for Noble.
Jenks went off with a knock post the penalty (now confirmed as ligament damage, ouch), and on came Byram for his debut, after signing from Leeds in the week. His first job was to mark Aguero at a corner. Welcome to the Premier League son !
However WHU kept on plugging away and although City had most of the possession, we had our chances. Payet was sublime but Joe Hart was a match for him, with a fantastic save from a free kick into the top corner.
Overall , we went into the break, tails up, but looking tired.
Second half we came out a little brighter, and kept up the attacks. Antonio spotted a quick throw to an aware Valencia, who managed to drop a shinned shot into Joe Hart’s bottom right corner and we go 2-1 up. Roof comes of stadium and then reality sets in. Same as last year, we take a one goal lead of City and hope to hold on. We did well, with Ginge repelling all boarders, but you could see the back four melting with fatigue. Alex Song started to drop in and was winning great tackles all over the place, and Noble became part of the back 6. Young Sam was shot, so Payet was covering back as well. This resolution lasted until the 81st minute when that man Aguero popped up again for his second to level. Some people are suggesting the swap out of Antonio for Moses changed the game somewhat, but Slaven needed fresh legs out there.
The last kick of the game, was actually a header, which Kouyate put onto the City crossbar after a nice cross from Noble following a fantastic round the corner from Payet.
So we stay in 6th, but have taken 4 points from the team who in most peoples minds, will win the league. This is progression, make no mistake. If we can put Liverpool out of the cup this weekend, then why not dare to dream. Even Joe Hart stated it would of been unfair for City to win, but not unfair for the Hammers.
Payet was magnificent again, the big question is will we hold onto him in the summer. In fact everyone played well, but my MOTM goes to Alex Song, who actually looked like he did at the start of last season. Also big shout out to Byram, who looks like he will be getting a run in the team now, with Jenks out for quite a while.
I’ll just leave this here:
Dimitri Payet was Man of The Match vs Manchester City… Here’s a few reasons why 🔥 pic.twitter.com/HbGIpnZ2lu
— WHUFC_Daily (@WHUFC_Daily) January 24, 2016