By Williams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
With a headline as this one would expect to see a fully-fit Sergio Aguero on the score sheet with probably a goal or two, but the 29-year-old Argentine wasn’t even a substitute in the team that pumped four goals past West Ham on Wednesday night.
Gabriel Jesus was the man of the match, scoring his first goal for Manchester City and assisting another in what was his first Premier League start as they tore West Ham apart at London Stadium.
City who left striker Sergio Aguero and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo on the bench, led when Kevin de Bruyne played a one-two with Jesus before stroking home.
Four minutes later, they doubled their lead when the impressive Leroy Sane beat two defenders and his deflected cross was tapped home by David Silva.
And the game was as good as won before half-time when Raheem Sterling squared the ball to Jesus to tap home.
Yaya Toure added a fourth after the break from a penalty when Hammers debutant Jose Fonte brought down Sterling.
West Ham, who made errors to lose possession for each of City’s three first-half goals, have been beaten heavily by City twice at home in 2017, having lost 5-0 in their FA Cup meeting last month.
City are now only behind fourth-placed Liverpool on goal difference, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
City boss Pep Guardiola revealed before the game that he had decided to stick with goalkeeper Willy Caballero and his front three of Sterling, Sane and Jesus – all of whom started Saturday’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
And it worked in sensational style the trio – aged 22, 21 and 19 respectively – ripped the Hammers to shreds.
Jesus, making his first Premier League start following his £27m move from Palmeiras this month, assisted the opener as City broke from their own half at speed with De Bruyne. The Brazilian exchanged passes before the Belgian, who was also impressive throughout, guided the ball past Darren Randolph.
The second goal was made by Sane, who has recently hit form following a slow start after his £37m summer move from Schalke, with the German skinning two Hammers defenders and crossing, via a touch from Randolph, for Silva to tap home.
The dynamic front three all had a hand in the third, with Sane playing in Sterling, who passed the ball across goal for a Jesus tap-in.
Their second-half performance was still dominant albeit less sensational, perhaps because it did not need to be, but they got their fourth when Sterling was brought down by Fonte and Toure narrowly beat Randolph.
In goal, Caballero kept his third clean sheet of 2017, having only played three matches, in contrast to the benched Bravo, who had conceded the last six shots on target he had faced.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola speaking at the post-match presser praised his team’s high pressing and aggressiveness without the ball, hailing Gabriel Jesus as a fighter with goal instincts.
“We played a front three with an average age of 20. I like the fans to be excited. Those players are the future of the club. Leroy Sane had some problems at the beginning but now he’s settled. They will be important players for the next few years” Guardiola said.
This was a much needed win for Manchester City to keep their premier league hopes, albeit faint, alive after losing 4-0 to Everton and drawing Tottenham 2-2 in their last two EPL games.
With four goals from four shots on target, the Citizens are definitely happy with their consistency in front of goal and the fans would sure love them to keep up the tempo.