WEST HAM 0, MANCHESTER CITY 0
West Ham were cheered by a goalless draw against City despite having grounds for complaint over a 4th minute goal that appeared to have been mistakenly chalked off for offside.
City, who had recorded a first 0-0 scoreline in the league since Boxing Day 2011 against West Brom, missed the chance to join United at the summit of the Barclays Premier League after they failed to convert any of their chances. Mario Balotelli in particular was wasteful in a game which they dominated in terms of possession although both sides had their chances to open the scoring throughout a match which never really got going.
City manager Roberto Mancini didn’t have bemoaned his side’s continued lack of killer instinct in front of goal.
“The guys played well and defended well. I’m happy for that performance, but not the result. We deserved to win.” claimed Mancini.
“We continue to miss a lot of chances in every game and this is no good.” said Mancini.
We played with three strikers and we missed four, five, six incredible chances. We tried everything to win but sometimes if you miss chances or don’t score we don’t win – that’s football.” explained the Italian.
“It can happen that you don’t score. We tried to do our best and West Ham defended well.”
Mancini was faced with a selection conundrum after injuries decimated the City squad in the run up to the West Ham game with a visit from Ajax on the horizon but they continued to lack the creative spark that David Silva provides.
With several players still in the treatment room Kolo Toure was selected to replace long-term injury victim Micah Richards at right back for the game against West Ham. Toure is ineligible for the crucial game against Ajax and Mancini was coy when asked in what position he would play against the Hammers.
City had already lost Joleon Lescott to a back injury sustained in training on Friday and Mancini was forced into a late change prior to kick off when James Milner had to be withdrawn from the starting lineup after picking up a hamstring injury in the warm-up. Gareth Barry was named in his place to anchor midfield alongside Yaya Toure. Recently returned Javi Garcia and Pablo Zabaleta were kept in reserve on the bench.
West Ham had their own injury problems with Guy Demel, Matt Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te and Jack Collison missing.
The Hammers certainly gave City a game and should perhaps have taken an early lead when Kevin Nolan was flagged for offside after scoring what he thought was a 4th minute opening goal only to have it chalked off quickly for offside despite replays suggesting that Kolo Toure had played him on.
Soon afterwards, it was Edin Dzeko’s headed follow-up from Samir Nasri’s parried shot which was adjudged to be offside despite appearing to be onside although it did go wide anyway.
West Ham were undeterred and Joe Hart was tested by Mohammed Diame’s blasted shot and had to be alert to tip away a volley by Yossi Benayoun while Matt Jarvis tested Hart later in the first half as City struggled to regain the swagger of last season especially without David Silva to dictate the tempo.
In return, Mario Balotelli was wasteful when presented with a trio of first half chances, the second handed to him on a plate by Carlos Tevez and the Italian was barracked by Tevez for not laying the ball off to him prior to his third chance which was blazed wide.
City took control of the second half without really testing Jussi Jaaskelainen despite another golden chance from Balotelli going begging. The Italian was toothless upfront right up until he was withdrawn by Roberto Mancini and visibly sulked as he stalked off the pitch towards the end of the game. For all their possession there was too little penetration by City who still struggled to finish off the chances they were carving out.
Although they were under pressure from City the Hammers still had their chances with Kevin Nolan’s header and Andy Carroll’s overhead kick failing to open the scoring for the home side in the second half.
Over a third of City’s goal have been scored in the last few minutes of games this season and City were still generating chances as time ran out but they simply could not step up the gear required to make the breakthrough.
Gareth Barry handballed when put through by Carlos Tevez while substitute Sergio Aguero’s effort was parried away by Jaaskelainen as the Hammers closed out the game.