Michail Antonio’s stunning acrobatics earned his side a difficult point against a struggling Manchester City outfit at the London Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.
West Ham United drew 1-1 with Pep Guardiola’s Premier League title chasers, honours even in an empty arena as City’s Phil Foden salvaged a result with his fourth goal in ten games.
The hosts were quickest of the mark in East London, Antonio latching onto a Vladimír Coufal cross with an overhead kick that would have had Irons’ fans off their seats had they been in attendance.
West Ham goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański was only seriously tested following the introduction of Kevin De Bruyne and City goal scorer Foden in the second half.
The Polish international finished the match strongly, also keeping out forwards Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez in the closing stages.
The equaliser was long awaited, yet inevitable as Foden eventually found the net from a João Cancelo pass shortly after the interval.
An afternoon of poor decision making and nerves keep City at the bottom end of the table, David Moyes’ Hammers building momentum as they snatched an eighth point from their last four games.
City unchanged for the first time in three years
Naming an unchanged starting 11 for the first time in over three years, Guardiola was forced to field the same side who beat Porto 3-1 midweek in the Champions League.
As an over hall of fixtures compliments an ever-growing injury list, several key players are still missing for the Mancunians. Among them, Gabriel Jesus remains unavailable, whilst both Sergio Aguero and Kyle Walker appear unfit after being substituted in the capital.
Peppering Angelo Ogbonna’s backline with 14 attempts on goal, it’s a credit to West Ham that City dropped their latest of seven points in total since the beginning of the campaign.
After eight trophies and 172 matches played, Guardiola’s switch-up of style ultimately proved ineffective, 22 minutes of De Bruyne insufficient as City continue their worst start to a top-flight season since 2014-15.
City have never lost a match in which Foden has scored. Praised by his manager for his sense of goal and awareness, the 20-year-old shone once again with a smart finish.
An explosive footballer with flare and bundles of energy, Foden found the gaps and filled them with his talent. Only six minutes after replacing Agüero, City were back on track and the youngster on the scoresheet.
Rather unlike his defensive colleagues who have picked up criticism for failing to play to the whistle in the build-up to the opener, Guardiola’s star boy was almost alone in echoing the playing style of the legendary 2017-18 season – Running with the ball, instead of just playing it ponderously backwards or sideways.
Making light work of Coufal and Andriy Yarmolenko, City fans will rely on Foden to inflict similar problems on Marseille defenders Álvaro González and Duje Ćaleta-Car in the Champions League midweek.
The highlight from a disappointing weekend for Cityzens will be new signing Rúben Dias’ strong display against a physical attacking force.
Whilst admittedly losing runner Antonio as the Englishman bagged the best of his career, the Portuguese defender continued to lay the foundations needed to succeed captain Fernandinho – tackles and interceptions embedded into a defensive display that unquestionably helped to hold West Ham to just the one goal.