David Silva injury scare as Man City sink Hammers 2-0
Manchester City will have mixed feelings after claiming all three points at the Etihad against West Ham United, as the Sky Blues cruised to a 2-0 triumph but saw star man David Silva stretchered off.
City targeted dominance from the outset, as under-pressure Manuel Pellegrini dropped his usual approach of two strikers at home to shore up midfield, with surprise stand-in skipper Yaya Toure supported by Brazilian bruiser Fernando and former Hammer Frank Lampard.
The hosts barely broke a sweat in the first half, as Sam Allardyce’s side regularly relinquished possession, showing little of the pride and passion that saw them scalp City in the reverse earlier this season.
In fact, the Hammers continue to be almost unrecognisable from the team that challenged Premier League champions City at Upton Park that day, and the slump cannot solely be pinned on a raft of injuries.
The guests spent the majority of the first half camped in their own box, struggling to win the ball back from the Sky Blues, with midfield shield Alex Song in paticular uncharacteristically sloppy.
City threatened early on as Silva looked to be sharpening his scoring boots and continued to pop up in perfect positions, however, it was an unfortunate own goal that broke the deadlock in the 17th minute.
Rampant wingman Jesus Navas, who thrived on the space and time afforded to him, pounced on a poor clearance by custodian Adrian, and the Spaniard’s subsequent cross bounced awkwardly off Hammers centre half James Collins to wrong-foot the keeper.
It may have been a bizarre goal, but the Sky Blues deserved to go ahead, and continued comfortably, as West Ham frontman Carlton Cole toiled up top unsupported.
City made it two before the break, as superb Sergio Aguero, finally back to his best, breached West Ham’s backline to seal the victory.
Toure made a vital interception in midfield, allowing the electric Argentine to skip past Collins and complete a quick exchange with Navas, before lashing the return past Adrian with ease.
In cruise control, the hosts continued to toy with their guests in the second half and, for their part, the Hammers seemed content to sit back and exercise damage limitation.
Pellegrini’s plan appeared to be working to perfection, until midfield schemer Silva was caught in the face by Cheikhou Kouyate, whose elbow appeared to catch the playmaker on the jaw.
The Spanish international was stretchered off and City will be left to sweat over his fitness, as they attemot to secure a top four spot.
To Allardyce’s credit, a late double substitution, which saw Cole exchanged for Kevin Nolan and lacklustre Song make way for Matt Jarvis, finally injected intent into West Ham, who came alive in the last 10 minutes of normal time.
Jarvis in particular added a spark as the Hammers tried to make the most of the nine minutes of extra time added for Silva’s injury, but it was sprightly Enner Valencia who looked most dangerous.
The Ecuador attacker escaped the attentions of both Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta to dance through City’s defence, but ultimately fired wide. West Ham’s late resurgence showed promise, but it was too little to late, and the London club will leave disappointed.