Aguero faces Jesus battle this year.
Gabriel Jesus scored one opportunistic goal and another which was ruled out by the slimmest of VAR decisions, and it was a reminder that Manchester City’s second-choice striker is better than most team’s leading man. His poaching was typically sharp and instinctive but he also showed the fullness of his game with clever hold-up play and movement in behind West Ham’s twisted full-backs.
So does Sergio Aguero have serious competition for a starting spot? Aguero has barely had any time to work in pre-season following the Copa America, and when he eventually replaced Jesus he took a woeful penalty, before VAR handed him a repreive. Aguero is the main man but if Jesus builds up a head of steam in these early games, he will be hard to leave out.
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West Ham are front loaded.
It is hard to learn much about West Ham from this game. They will have many more easier outings to come than this and there will be plenty of teams who ship four or more goals to Manchester City.
Even so, the performance did seem to back up what many have suspected about this West Ham squad, namely that it is full of interesting attacking intent and lacks the defensive foundations to support it all. Ryan Fredericks and Aaron Cresswell were exposed on several occasions while Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena both had shaky moments in central defence.
Where does Cancelo fit in?
Joao Cancelo began his Premier League career on the bench here and as he watched Kyle Walker zoom down to the touchline to create the first goal, he must have wondered exactly how he will fit into the side. He has said on previous occasions that he doesn’t much like playing left-back and is most comfortable on the right, so will Walker shift over to the left side or will they simply rotate? It is a curious signing in that sense, but on the other hand it is frightening just how strong City’s squad is right now.
Rodri has slotted in nicely.
Rodri looks like he has been playing in this City side for years, and seems the perfect replacement for Fernandinho when the Brazilian’s ageing legs eventually give way. Here he controlled the tempo and never looked rushed, despite the close attentions of Manuel Lanzini for much of the game. The only question mark would be over his mobility: can he get around the pitch to snuff out rapid counter-attacks as Fernandinho does so well? The answer will have to wait, because West Ham didn’t really stretch those lumbering Spanish legs.
City aren’t slowing down.
If there was any sense that perhaps Manchester City might slow down this year, that their motivation might dip or their patience for Pep Guardiola’s intense approach might finally run up, this performance quickly shut down that sentiment, leaving that the strange sense that there is still another gear or two to go to. City will be brilliant again, and it will take something remarkable to stop them.