Despite arriving just one day prior, Manchester City acclimatised quickly to the humid environment of the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center as they beat West Ham 4-1 in the Premier League Asia Trophy.
It was a day for the Premier League champions youth prospects to shine, with Lukas Nmecha and Adrian Bernabe showcasing their talents against a strong Hammers line-up.
But while they excelled, it was Raheem Sterling who guaranteed the win for the Citizens – scoring twice in an electric second half display.
West Ham had plenty of chances of their own, and despite the scoreline, were in the game for the majority of the match – offering hope that a few defensive improvements could lead to a potential stab at European qualification next season.
Here’s our breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
As much as it is unlikely that we will see Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero or Bernardo Silva forced out of the side, this pre-season match has proven that youth should perhaps be given an opportunity next season.
Striker Lukas Nmecha looked powerful and dangerous, winning and scoring a penalty to give his side the lead, whilst winger Adrian Bernabe provided a delicious assist for veteran playmaker David Silva.
Long-term Fernandinho replacement Rodri was comfortable in central midfield, looking like a player who will be constructing attacks from deep rather than someone who will constantly be breaking up play.
Starting XI: Bravo (7); Danilo (6), Angelino (5), Laporte (7), Harwood-Bellis (7), Rodri (7), David Silva (9*), Doyle (8), Bernabe (8), Poveda-Ocampo (7), Nmecha (8).
Substitutes: Sane (7); Sterling (9), De Bruyne (8), Bernardo Silva (7), Zinchenko (7) Gundogan (7), Walker (7), Garcia (6), Stones (6).
STAR MAN – Despite only featuring for the first half, David Silva silenced any doubts over whether he is still truly capable of playing at the top level, in a side of City’s quality.
His glorious control and finish for City’s first goal of the game beautifully complimented the outstanding ball which gave him the opportunity in the first place.
He put in an eye-catching performance, made all the more impressive by the fact that he had to do so with a number of fringe players, being one of four replaced by Sterling, Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne at the start of the second period.
David Silva is like a fine wine isn’t he?
— West Ham Central (@WestHam_Central) 17 July 2019
Tommy Doyle and David Silva 💙
— Maroonmafia67@Dougiemcfc (@Maroonmafia671) 17 July 2019
West Ham United
Key Talking Point
West Ham are not short of attacking prowess, which is only going to be enhanced when Sebastian Haller is deployed, as tricky forwards Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson caused the City defence all sort of problems.
The Brazilian made a great contribution to the opening goal when he turned left back Angelino – who had a day to forget – inside out, only leaving him able to stop Anderson using his arm. The resultant penalty was coolly converted by Mark Noble.
But, as predicted, it is their defensive frailties which may end up being a costly factor during the 2019/20 campaign. It was fairly simple for City’s creative youngsters to break them down at times, whilst a clumsy Ogbonna challenge allowed City to come from behind before the half time whistle.
Starting XI: Roberto (6); Fredericks(7), Diop (6), Ogbonna (5), Johnson (6), Rice (6), Noble (6), Wilshere (6), Lanzini (8), Anderson (8), Antonio (7).
Substitutes: Sanchez (6), Snodgrass (6), Hernandez (7), Yarmolenko (7), Diangana (6), Obiang (6), Zabaleta (6), Cresswell (6), Reid (6).
STAR MAN –
But West Ham fans should be excited by what they saw of him. He looked likely to make something happen every time he got on the ball, driving at defenders and always looking for the killer pass, or opportunity to take a snap-shot on goal.
Looking forward to watching Manuel Lanzini this season. Had that horrible injury which meant he missed most of last season, it’ll be interesting to see how he develops. Quality player. #PLAsiaTrophy #mciwhu
— David Hickman (@DavidHickman87) July 17, 2019
West Ham front four could look like
Obviously two of them need to settle and one coming back from long injury but if it clicks that’s an impressive front four.
— Neil (@spuddy1878) July 16, 2019
Coming off the back of this result, City continue their tour of China with matches against less familiar opponents in Hong Kong side Kitchee, before facing further Premier League opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League Asia Trophy final..
It’s a different story for West Ham, who first will take on Newcastle in the third placed playoff, before returning to London to face the relegated Fulham at Craven Cottage next.