Manchester City got their Premier League title defence off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United at the London Stadium.
Erling Haaland bagged an impressive brace on his Premier League debut as Manchester City beat West Ham United 2-0 at the London Stadium in what was a superb all-round performance by Pep Guardiola’s defending champions.
The home side got off to a quick start, with Aaron Cresswell crossing the ball for Michail Antonio. But his near-post flick went back for a corner, and he headed over from the subsequent set piece. That was West Ham’s best piece of action in the first half, with Manchester City utterly dominating possession and chances created.
Kevin De Bruyne appeared to have opened the scoring around the half-hour mark, but the goal was ruled off due to offside in the build-up. The Citizens did take the lead via new signing Erling Haaland as he sent Alphonse Areola the wrong way to convert a penalty he had won himself following a foul from the substitute goalkeeper.
The defending Premier League champions then doubled their lead when De Bruyne’s clinical pass slotted through Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell and Haaland aimed on goal before doubling the visitors’ advantage. Despite Manchester City’s relentless pressure, they needed a moment of quality to carve the Hammers open on both occasions.
FULL-TIME | We begin our @premierleague season with 3️⃣ points! ✅
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 7, 2022
With Liverpool already having dropped points, Pep Guardiola’s men already had their tails up in the title race. From West Ham’s perspective, while there is no shame in losing to City, Moyes will be frustrated at just how little his team have threatened when only months ago they were competing with the visitors on almost equal footing in the 2-2 draw. Nevertheless, after a one-sided affair at the London Stadium, the Hard Tackle will now run the rule over both sets of players.
West Ham United
Lukasz Fabianski: N/A
Forced off after 28 minutes with an injury after a collision with Haaland but was untroubled before that. Big blow for West Ham.
Aaron Cresswell: 5/10
Cresswell was one of those who stood out early on, having a significant impact with his overlapping runs and crosses. Phil Foden gave him the runaround, with the left-back often seen reeling from trying to catch up to the Manchester City attacker, although he persisted. He showed good attacking intent whenever West Ham had possession but was surely put to the test by the quality of the opposition.
Kurt Zouma: 6/10
Zouma tried to make his physical presence count as he stood tall against any aerial battles that came his way and seemed to embrace the task of marking Erling Haaland. Snuffed out danger quite adeptly to keep things neat at the back until the second goal, when he was nowhere to be seen.
Ben Johnson: 6/10
Johnson partnered Zouma at the heart of the West Ham defence, tasked with stopping a Manchester City forward line that included Foden, Haaland, and Jack Grealish. He dealt with crosses effectively with strong-headed clearances and also made a few crucial blocks, but he could have exerted more pressure on Haaland in the build-up to the penalty. Otherwise, he did not look out of place in an unfamiliar role against world-class opponents.
Vladimir Coufal: 6/10
Coufal was a busy man down the right flank with his hands full dealing with the threat posed by Joao Cancelo and Grealish as he caught the latter with a tough challenge. The Czech right-back tucked inside a lot at times to offer Grealish the width and space on the wing.
Declan Rice: 6.5/10
Rice led the Hammers out as permanent skipper for the first time and was the only one demanding to get on the ball and play through Manchester City. The England international read the game well with multitudes of interceptions but found himself out of position in the build-up that led to Haaland’s opener. As the game progressed, he grew and flashed one over the bar from the edge of the box early in the second period.
Tomas Soucek: 5/10
?? Soucek vs. Man City (87minutes):
• 0 Interceptions
• 16 Accurate passes
• 33% Long ball accuracy
• 1/5 Aerial duels won
• 0 Key passes
• 1 Foul
• 1/5 Duels won
• 1x Dribbled past
• Cardio ? pic.twitter.com/yQdTEZa5kM
— ?? (@Dtu_whufc) August 7, 2022
A bad day in the engine room for Soucek, who looked out of sorts and sloppy in possession on a couple of occasions in the first half. He did make a couple of good interceptions and clearances, but that was about it with very little output on the attacking front. His incapacities on the ball did not help West Ham grab any control in midfield.
Jarrod Bowen: 5/10
Bowen scored a brace before half-time when these two sides met in May but was a shadow of that version here as he hardly got a kick all day long. To be fair, West Ham only fed him scraps that he could not make the most of. Still, zero dribbles and only one shot is concerning. He looked slightly more threatening when moved centrally after the break.
Pablo Fornals: 5/10
Fornals looked bright in the short spell West Ham had in the early exchanges. The Spaniard put a brilliant cross into the box for Antonio early on while pressing well, grafting hard as ever, and putting himself into dangerous areas. But like most of his teammates, he faded quite quickly and was quiet in the rest of the first half. Looked lively when Scamacca came on to provide a focal point.
Manuel Lanzini: 4/10
You would be forgiven if you did not notice that the Argentine on the pitch, so anonymous was Lanzini’s performance. Like Pablo Fornals next to him, he showed a willingness to attack Manchester City’s backline early on but went missing after that.
Michail Antonio: 5/10
Antonio could have done better with an early-headed chance from Fornals’s delivery. He picked up a knock shortly after Fabianski’s injury, which slowed him down at times but drew a couple of fouls from Ruben Dias before being taken off after 56 minutes without making much of an impact.
Alphonse Areola: 4/10
Areola gave away the penalty just six minutes from his introduction as the former PSG goalkeeper mistimed his charge for the ball against Haaland. He could not have done anything about Manchester City’s second, though. He made no saves or high claims, so this was a poor game by his standards.
Gianluca Scamacca: 6/10
The Italian striker tried to be the difference-maker and lift the home crowd, which he did to some extent when he had a very powerful header saved by Ederson after peeling away from Manchester City’s defenders. However, West Ham were too negative and needed more than a solid marksman to get back into the game.
Said Benrahma: 5/10
Benrahma was always on the move and tried to make things happen but was as ineffective with his dribbles and forward passes. Got off West Ham’s only shot on target.
Conor Coventry: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Flynn Downes: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating
Ederson was solid as he was mostly a passenger, with his team attacking from the front. But when called into action, he was efficient, making an excellent save to keep Scamacca’s thumping header out, although it would not have counted as the West Ham man was offside. After dropping a simple ball in the penalty box, he recovered in time to save the only effort on target from West Ham.
Kyle Walker: 7/10
Walker put on an ever-reliable composed performance at right back. His injuries late in the season evidently had no impact on his blinding speed, which the defender had to exhibit on occasion with some strong recovery runs. He won two of his three duels and completed four of his six long balls as Manchester City controlled the lion’s share of possession.
Ruben Dias: 6.5/10
Commanding at the back, as usual, Dias made a key contribution with a last-ditch interception to prevent West Ham United from scoring an early one. He kept a tight lid on Michail Antonio’s transitional turns and fouled the Jamaican international a fair few times to cut off the hosts’ only strategy for gaining a foothold in the game. He won three of his seven duels and made five key clearances.
Nathan Ake: 7/10
A dominating performance from the Dutchman, justifying Guardiola’s decision to not sell him earlier this summer. Ake looked set for a tricky afternoon against the physicality of Antonio and Scamacca. But he came out with flying colours and won all of his aerial and ground duels versus the Hammers. His passing was also decent, as he progressed the ball nicely on a few occasions.
Joao Cancelo: 6.5/10
João Cancelo and Kyle Walker’s combined heat-maps from the victory over West Ham.
Full-backs or deep lying playmakers? pic.twitter.com/HkO5NpvYzA
— Amos Murphy (@AmosMurphy_) August 7, 2022
Cancelo had a few iffy moments defensively, especially when his poor pass led to an early West Ham pressure. But he more than made up for it with his forward play, frequently cutting inroads into the midfield to create plays as an inverted full-back. The Portuguese ace won seven of his ten contested duels while playing five accurate long balls in the game. Saw a cheap yellow card for gesturing at the match officials.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7.5/10
Manchester City’s best player on the ball, the Belgian dragged an early shot wide and did not look in full swing. But he grew into the game as it went on, and the defence-splitting ball for Haaland’s second goal was a thing of beauty.
De Bruyne seemed to have scored 27 minutes in but the goal was ruled out for offside. The deadly De Bruyne-Haaland combination is one that will strike fear into most of the Premier League oppositions over the current season.
Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved 18 goals in 17 Premier League games in 2022:
◉ 10 goals
◉ 8 assists
And those numbers are just going to increase with Erling Haaland in the side. ? pic.twitter.com/4pRK6JIopR
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 7, 2022
Manchester City’s midfield metronome controlled the tempo of the match flawlessly, barring a few lost balls. Rodri is a perfect definition of a Rolls Royce holding midfield player who contributes to all elements of the game, allowing Manchester City the freedom to impose their brand of football on the opposition.
The Spaniard’s excellent reading of the game was also on showcase as he positioned himself well to cut off the passing lanes. Rodri won most of his duels (7/10) and never looked flustered.
Rodri vs West Ham:
95 passes completed
100% take-on success
100% ground duels won
94% pass accuracy
12 final third entries
7 duels won
7x possession won
3 accurate long balls
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 7, 2022
Ilkay Gundogan: 6.5/10
Gundogan was Manchester City’s captain on the evening and looked far more energetic, sharper and incisive than he did for the chunk of last season. He was instrumental in the team’s build-up play, with 92 per cent accuracy including two key passes, while his weighted pass in the lead-up to Haaland’s opener made all the difference in the first half.
Phil Foden: 7/10
Foden looked dangerous in the right-wing position. While he did not do anything of note, his energy, creativity and constant moving of the ball helped Manchester City’s attacks a lot. He whipped in a few dangerous crosses into the box, and also completed four successful dribbles.
Erling Haaland: 9/10
Haaland, who was already dubbed a flop by the Twitter trolls after his Community Shield performance, silenced his early critics to score a brace on his league debut for Manchester City. The Norwegian goal-machine first won the penalty with a great first touch before stepping up to score the penalty by sending Areola the wrong way.
The former Borussia Dortmund hitman linked up well with his teammates all game, while the Manchester City players also catered to his direct style of play, as evident in the second goal he scored to put the game to bed.
Jack Grealish: 6/10
Grealish played a similar role to that of Foden but was far less productive than his opposite wing teammate. He made several terrific runs forward, but lacked the dynamism and urgency to create the opportunity.
Bernardo Silva: 6/10
Silva was not handed a start by Guardiola amid questions over his future, with the Portuguese playmaker linked with Barcelona. He was only given ten minutes as a late substitute.
Julian Alvarez: N/A
The Argentine striker brings energy and turn of pace that makes him stand out even in Manchester City’s elite attack. He dribbled past a few West Ham defenders before his right-footed attempt was blocked.
Riyad Mahrez: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Cole Palmer: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Kalvin Phillips: N/A
Former Leeds United star and summer signing, Phillips was handed a late debut and will hope to get more minutes over the season due to the fixture congestion, with Rodri currently a starter in his place in the defensive midfield role.