Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City tomorrow night having not beaten the club at home or away since their 1-2 victory in Manchester in September 2015.
Today, just over 24 hours before the Hammers will look to damage Blue Moon’s hopes of making it back-to-back PL titles under Guardiola, we’re going to look back at that match almost four years ago? How did West Ham last beat Man City at the Etihad? Find out in our statistics-driven tactical analysis.
First up in our analysis, we will be analysing the three goals that were scored on the day, two for Slaven’s Bilic’s Hammers and one for the Citizens. In the encounter that was selected for live broadcast by Sky Sports as their Saturday night live match.
The first arrived a mere five minutes into the contest and came from the unlikely source of on-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses for the Irons, who had already toppled Arsenal and Liverpool away from home the month before. He was fed a short pass by Dimitri Payet in midfield and advanced towards the City penalty area. As we can see in the below image which, like all images we’re using today, comes from wyscout.com, he decides to pull the trigger from a fair distance out.
Moses had eyes only for the near corner and picked it out perfectly with a venomous low drive that buried in the back of the net, giving future West Ham star Joe Hart in goal no chance whatsoever. This gave the visitors a huge early boost against a home team that was then being managed, ironically, by current boss at London Stadium, Pellegrini.
Now well on their way to another surprising scalp of a huge team away from home in a campaign they would challenge for the top four, eventually blowing their chances under Bilic and finishing seventh. The East Londoners sought a second goal and it would come just 25 minutes later from striker Diafra Sakho, his fourth of the season at that stage.
As the below image tells us, the strike that made it 0-2 just after the half-hour mark was born out of something of a goalmouth scramble in the Man City area, in contrast to the first, from range. Centre-back Winston Reid rose to get his head to a devilish Payet corner, nodding in the direction of Pedro Obiang, who is stretching for the ball.
The faintest of touches from the Spanish midfielder, still at the club, poked the ball into the path of Sakho, using his poacher’s instinct to be in the right place at the right time. He gets his boot to it before Yaya Toure and angles a superb finish back across goal and into the far corner, ending up in a heap on the turf clutching his ankle. Bilic’s men had stunned the Etihad by making it two and the hosts were never able to fully recover.
But it wasn’t for the want of trying for Pellegrini’s men in his final term of his first spell as a manager in England, the 2015/2016 campaign. And the home side’s constant pressure after the two goals would pay off on the stroke of half-time. As the below image tells us, Kevin de Bruyne was just given too much space on the edge of the box, with a gap in the defence left by Reid being out of position.
As the Premier League was about to find out at his second time of trying in English football, the Belgian international was not someone you wanted to give even half-a-chance or an inch of space from far out. Duly, West Ham were punished with De Bruyne picking out Adrian San Miguel’s bottom right-hand corner. However, it proved only to be a consolation for league leaders City as they never found an equaliser and the score stayed the same through to Bobby Madley’s full-time whistle.
Secondly in this analysis and in order to further explain how West Ham last beat Man City at the Etihad, we’re going to analyse some match statistics from the late-summer day in the north west.
71.5 per cent possession going in the favour of the home team shows us that the East Londoners really did make the most of the very little amount of the ball they saw in the 90 minutes, just 28.5%.
The story is very much the same when we look at the shots, a huge 27 were recorded by the Citizens, with just six registered by the Hammers. Of those, eight were on target for the hosts (well under half) and exactly half were aimed directly between Hart’s sticks for the visitors.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out from these figures which team truly had their shooting boots on, acting more clinically in front of goal and cashing in more often when they were given opportunities in the final third.
Eight saves made in the match by Adrian, to Hart’s one, and 43 clearances made by the West Ham defence to Man City’s 17, shows us that Bilic also had to rely on a very strong performance at the back to beat the odds and win the three points. As well as a clinical display up front.
The Irons hit the Citizens on the break whenever they could and used impressive, strong and resolute defending mixed with a ruthless counter-attacking showing to triumph in the match. It was a tactic they adopted against the bigger teams for this entire term and used it to great effect to record some memorable results.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has revealed how West Ham last beat Man City at the Etihad, a well-thought-out and executed game plan, along with the odd slice of luck needed to be successful. A combination of defensive and attacking excellence.
While many will argue that the City of old were much easier to defeat than the current world-beaters of Guardiola’s team, Pellegrini will remember the match we’ve looked at today from being in the opposite dugout. And he must use the Hammers performance on that day as a blueprint for his team in their bid to become only the third side to beat City away from home in the league since December 2016.
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