Q&D – West Ham 0-3 Manchester City (0-9 aggregate)

Pellegrini’s merciless holistic army made it 18 games unbeaten tonight with an easy win over West Ham in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi final.

City were never in any danger of losing their 6-0 lead, but Pellegrini named a fairly strong side with Aguero and Negredo up front, while West Ham were close to full strength from what they had available.

City’s team did have an element of youth about it with 18-year-old Marcos Lopes starting and Boyata returning at right-back. Both had fine games, but it was the performance of Lopes that really stood out tonight.

Lopes was a menace to West Ham’s experienced defence (average age: 30), especially in the first half, his pace and low centre of gravity causing them problems.

Just 3 minutes had passed when a perfect Lopes cross found the unmarked Negredo who added yet another goal to his collection with a header.

20 minutes later and Lopes went on a mazy run, taking several West Ham defenders out of the game before giving the ball to Aguero, who skillfully scored his 22nd goal of the season.

City were finding it all too easy but what was impressive was that they were still working hard, Lopes for example tracking back and completing 5 successful tackles, an amazing feat for an attacking midfielder.

What also stood out about Lopes’ performance was his maturity. Rather than playing like the usual kid who looks overawed and meek, “Rony” was fully involved in the team and his team-mates looked like they trusted him, often giving him the ball.

Many youth players don’t grasp the chance when they’re given it, but Lopes did. Pellegrini said after the game that Lopes has a “great future” and this performance may give the manager reason to use him more often.

The second half was little different to the first. West Ham huffed and puffed, having a couple of penalty shouts that would have been soft if given, but were outclassed by the well oiled City machine.

The race between Kun and Negredo for top scorer continued as Negredo used his incredible strength to shrug off West Ham defenders and score from a tight angle.

This was Negredo’s 23rd goal of the season, again making him the club’s top scorer. What an amazing signing he has been at £16.4m!

Besides another fine performance and win, the big news was the long awaited return of Stevan Jovetic, who replaced Aguero for 25 minutes. He showed a few nice touches and flicks, but the most important thing was that he got through the game unscathed.

Jack Rodwell also returned from another injury and was good after coming on for Garcia, completing 100% of his passes and using the ball well.

City could have had more and threatened to make it a 10-0 aggregate score, but Chris Foy took pity on the Hammers, adding just 1 minute of stoppage time when there probably should have been about 4 minutes.

So it’s back to Wembley, a stadium we’ve become very familiar with in recent years after forgetting what the place looked like! The only question remaining is, United or Sunderland? We’ll find out tomorrow.

West Ham: Jaaskelainan, Taylor, Johnson, Tomkins, Rat, Diarra, Diame, Nolan, Morrison, J. Cole (Downing 47), Carroll (C. Cole 46)
Subs not used: Adrian, Chambers, Jarvis, Collison, Noble

Manchester City: Pantilimon, Boyata, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy, Navas (Kolarov 78), Garcia (Rodwell 63), Fernandinho, Lopes, Negredo, Aguero (Jovetic 65)
Subs not used: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Dzeko
Goals: Negredo 3 + 59, Aguero 24

Attendance: 14,390

TKA Man of the Match: Marcos Lopes

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:


The City Summary (January 20, 2014)

Stevan Jovetic and Jack Rodwell both trained normally today and are in the provisional squad to face West Ham at Upton Park tomorrow.

City are 6-0 up from the first leg and unless the most incredible of all “Typical City” moments occurs tomorrow, the Blues are heading to Wembley for the Capital One Cup final.

This gives Pellegrini the opportunity to rest whoever he wants as City’s non-stop fixture pile-up continues, and could mean starts or at least appearances off the bench for Jovetic and Rodwell.

Pellegrini hasn’t given any official update today on who might play or miss out tomorrow, but Marcos Lopes also trained with the first team today so could again be involved.

Micah Richards trained separately and is suffering some stiffness in a leg, nothing serious but the same problem that kept him out on Saturday.

With Sam Allardyce admitting West Ham will field pretty much a full strength team, Pellegrini may risk City’s incredible unbeaten streak of 17 games if he significantly weakens the team.

But with a 6-0 lead and huge games against Spurs and Chelsea on the horizon, it would be worthwhile gamble to keep some of our overworked players fresh.

Turkish news source NTV Spor released some (alleged) quotes today from Joleon Lescott where he (allegedly) said: “I want to play football and join Besiktas.”

Besiktas were the first team to be linked with Lescott in the January transfer window, but these quotes seemed out of character from a man who has been a perfect professional at City.

The Turkish media have a tendency to exaggerate or blatantly lie, as we saw when Kolo Toure was supposed to be leaving City for two or three Turkish sides, but didn’t.

So it’s no surprise that Lescott’s representatives have quickly come out and confirmed he never made those comments.

It isn’t out of the question that Lescott could still leave this month, but if he does it will most likely be to a Premier League side, with West Ham having already offered him a lucrative financial package if City sanction his departure.

Harry Bunn has ended his 13 year association with City by joining Huddersfield Town on a permanent basis.

The 21-year-old striker has been on loan at Huddersfield and playing for their U21 team, but he and City reached a mutual agreement to terminate his contract, allowing him to join the Championship side permanently until the end of the season.

Bunn, son of former City reserve team coach Frankie Bunn (who now works at Huddersfield with another ex-City coach Steve Eyre), was a very prolific goal scorer for City’s youth teams.

He hasn’t yet been able to reproduce his youth record at senior level during several loan moves, but has a long career ahead of him and we wish him the best of luck.

Inter Milan are keen on promising City defender Karim Rekik, according to Sky Italia transfer master Gianluca Di Marzio.

The Serie A club sent scouts to watch both Rekik and Memphis Depay play for PSV against Ajax yesterday, a game PSV narrowly lost 1-0.

19-year-old Rekik is one of City’s best youth prospects and is very highly regarded by City chiefs, particularly Patrick Vieira who said in 2012 it would be a failure if Rekik doesn’t make it at City.

Rekik has played well for PSV, despite the club struggling after a promising start to the season, and has even captained them.

He was called up for the Dutch senior national team last August, but an injury that required surgery deprived him of what could have been a first cap.

Despite Inter’s interest, City are unlikely to entertain offers for the Dutchman who has been with the club since he was 16.

Less than 24 hours after their narrow defeat to Real Madrid, City’s promising under-16 team was again in action today in the ALKASS International Cup against Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol.

City made wholesale changes again, with 14-year-old Brahim starting and setting up City’s first goal, scored by Joe Hardy.

In an eventful last 15 minutes, City won TWO penalties, the first of which was soft and saw Kashiwa’s goalkeeper sent off. Both penalties were scored by Ghanaian youngster Collins Tanor.

The match finished 3-0 to City and Barcelona’s win over Aspire Qatar sets up a mouthwatering match for 5th place on Wednesday between City and Barca. This is scheduled to kick off at 2:45pm GMT on Wednesday and will be streamed online.

If you missed our morning exclusive, City are on the trail of Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, and could challenge Real Madrid for the 19-year-old starlet.

Click here for more details on that, including Roberto Martinez’s opinion on the Spain international.