Manchester City: Citizens Thump West Ham in F.A. Cup Third Round

"Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi battles with West Ham's Michail Antonio during Saturday's match" (Credit to Manchester City Facebook Page.)
"Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi battles with West Ham's Michail Antonio during Saturday's match" (Credit to Manchester City Facebook Page.) /

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In their F.A. Cup Third Round draw at West Ham United on Friday evening, Manchester City thumped the Hammers 5-0. 

It was Pep Guardiola‘s first taste of the historic tournament and his side rolled through West Ham at the London Stadium. Yaya Toure started off the scoring in the first half after striking home from the penalty spot.

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Pablo Zabaleta won the penalty after being tripped by Hammers’ defender Angelo Ogbonna. Sofiane Feghouli missed a great chance to equalize for West Ham not long after, which definitely was a turning point in the game. An own-goal off of Havard Nordtveit made it 2-0 to the Citizens after a cross deflected off the wing-back and in. A minute later, David Silva tapped home from close range to make it 3-0 after a nice 1-2 from Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling allowed Silva the easy finish.

After being up 3-0 at half-time, Manchester City continued to cruise in the second half. Sergio Aguero deflected home Yaya Toure’s long-range effort for City’s fourth before John Stones headed home his first goal for the club.

After 90 minutes, Manchester City booked their spot into the fourth round of the competition. Goalkeeper Willy Caballero made a few saves early, but was rarely threatened after that. Following the match, Pep Guardiola told BBC Sport that his side created many more chances than in previous matches.

“We were able to keep the ball more than the last games. We created more chances. Before the penalty we had three or four clear chances. After the second and third goal it was easy in the second half. It’s important to win away but it’s not easy. I’d like to involve the fans and make them believe we are good. We are the good guys – we run a lot and fight.”

As Manchester City cruised to victory on Friday, here are my three takeaways from the match.

1.) Man City’s attackers turned it up after a slow start. 
Despite rainy conditions in London Friday evening, Manchester City was able to dominate most of the match. A quick start by West Ham forced a few saves from Caballero early, while pressure also led to some loose passes. It seemed as if Manchester City’s attackers turned on a switch after being pressured which led to the later domination. Raheem Sterling had a superb outing creating chances down the flank, while also leaving West Ham defenders behind. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne created chances in the middle of the pack, while Sergio Aguero was a pest up-top. Once, Manchester City got the first goal it was smooth sailing from there as they scored four more goals and never let up their attack.

2.) Pablo Zabaleta; the new City midfielder? 
It was an odd sight to see, but Pablo Zabaleta had a nice game partnering next to Yaya Toure in midfield. With Fernando out with a knock, and Fernandinho suspended, Pep decided to go with his experienced wing-back as a defensive midfielder. It worked out well early after Zabaleta drew the opening penalty. He seemed to rotate with right-back Bacary Sagna if the Frenchman had to track up in attack. I’m not sure if Pep will do this again in the future, but it definitely is an option with the numerous amount of fixtures approaching.

3.) After previous tough games, Manchester City can still dominate when needed.
Coming into the fixture, a lot was made on Pep’s decisions against Burnley earlier in the week. Sergio Aguero and David Silva came off the bench that game, but didn’t start, which asked a lot of questions about Pep’s tactics. His tactics won’t be judged now after a thumping of another Premier League side in the F.A. Cup. At times, Manchester City have the ability to turn it up a notch against an opponent. Sometimes they have been criticized for not playing like that every match, but it cannot truly be expected with a long schedule. What I learned Friday is that Manchester City are a big threat to anyone they face. They have the skill and ability to go far in this competition, and should not be doubted along the way.

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Following Friday’s win, Manchester City will find out their fourth round opponent during Monday’s draw. Their next match takes place on January 15th when they travel to Everton in Premier League play.