Manchester City secured their 14th successive Premier League win by edging past West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Ruben Dias was the man to open the scoring as he powered in a sumptuous Kevin De Bruyne cross for his first Manchester City goal. The hosts could not hold onto their lead though with Michail Antonio tapping home just minutes from the half-time break.
However, another City centre-back then had a say, with John Stones getting on the end of Riyad Mahrez’s centre and smashing home what turned out to be the winning goal.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
De Bruyne one of the best?
Belgian maestro Kevin De Bruyne has missed a considerable part of the season with a hamstring injury. Before his return at Goodison Park 11 days ago, he had missed the previous five Premier League matches.
His performance against West Ham indicates that he is certainly over those problems, firing at top form. His ball into the box for Dias to score was a truly wonderful cross and helped De Bruyne onto his 77th Premier League assist – moving him into the top ten goal creators in the Premier League’s history.
Whilst he has some way to go to catch up to Ryan Giggs’ count of 162, there is no doubt that De Bruyne is now included in the pantheon of Premier League greats. He sits at odds of 12/1 with Betfair to be named the PFA Player of the Year come the end of the campaign.
Whilst De Bruyne predictably sparkled throughout the game, it was ironically City’s defenders who were the most clinical in attacking positions against West Ham. First, Dias thundered in a brilliant header for his first Manchester City and Premier League goal to give them the lead. It was then John Stones turn once again, netting his fourth goal of the season with a consummate finish from inside the penalty area – making it the best scoring season of his career. As a matter of fact, no defender in the Premier League has scored more in all competitions than Stones this season.
Of course, that goalscoring instinct at the back will of course be extremely useful for Pep Guardiola and his charges as they hunt down the Premier League title. In all this season, Manchester City defenders have now netted 12 goals in all competitions – which bodes very well should the team’s attacking players happen to not be up to their usual high standards.
Lingard continues West Ham impact
There may not have been a game this season where Jesse Lingard will have wanted to have more of an impact than against Manchester City. Having joined the Hammers on-loan from Manchester United, he did have his say, assisting Antonio for his equaliser just before the break.
He may well have been slightly fortunate having seen his attempted shot spin off target, only to be tapped in by the forward, but he keeps on improving his numbers since his January switch. In just four appearances under David Moyes, the 28-year-old has scored three goals and provided two assists. If he can continue that contribution, there is no reason why he cannot break into the Manchester United side upon his return or alternatively secure a different move in the summer window.
Whatever transpires, it must be satisfying for Lingard to finally be playing football once again and seemingly having found his top form.
Manchester City: Ederson (7); Zinchenko (6), Dias (7), Stones (7), Walker (6), Fernandinho (7), Gundogan (7) (Rodri (N/A) 89′), De Bruyne (7); Torres (6) (Foden (6), 65′), Mahrez (7), Aguero (5) (Jesus (61′).
West Ham United: Randolph (6); Cresswell (6), Johnson (6) (Benrahma (N/A), 84′), Dawson (5), Diop (6) Coufal (6); Rice (6), Soucek (6); Fornals (5), Lingard (6), Antonio (7) (Bowen (N/A), 84′).
Goals: Dias (30′), Antonio (43′), Stones (68′)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: Johnson (28′)
Red Cards: N/A