West Ham United 0-5 Manchester City: Five Talking Points | Premier League 2019-20
Manchester City visited West Ham United at London Stadium for the first game of their title defense of the Premier League. City, who had already won the Community Shield, and reinforced the squad with Rodri and Cancelo, were expected to have a rather tricky first game. After all, West Ham's squad quality was one to behold - Fornals, Haller, Felipe Anderson, Lanzini, all brilliant attacking players.
Pep Guardiola decided to rest Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva for the opener, leisure of having the squad depth of City at the disposal. With Sane injured too, City lined up with Sterling, Jesus, and Mahrez at the front. Rodri got his first PL start while Cancelo started from the bench.
Manuel Pellegrini lined up with a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation, surprisingly leaving Fornals out of his starting 11. Sebastian Haller was the sole striker for the home side.
Manchester City took the lead in the 25th minute via Gabriel Jesus. They were made to sweat a bit by West Ham's intriguing passing moves and headways in the first half. In the second half though, City got a second goal through Sterling, and then a third also followed, in 51st and 75th minutes.
Aguero buried a penalty after missing initially from the spot just 10 minutes later. Sterling completed his hattrick in additional time to put City 5-0 ahead and finish off an absolute drubbing for West Ham.
Here are five talking points from the game.
#5 VAR has come to England
The biggest talking point today is not the football that transpired in London, but the person who officiated it from inside the room with a monitor in front. VAR made its interventions more than anyone could have expected, and that too in a manner which seemed dubious to the players from both sides.
VAR's first intervention came when Gabriel Jesus tapped in what he thought was his second goal. The decision was reviewed by VAR and the goal was disallowed, causing a huge amount of confusion among the Manchester City staff and players. Raheem Sterling's shoulder seemed to be all right to the naked eye, but the close up on the screens judged it offside by the barest of margins, maybe a centimeter, and thus the play which followed viz. the square ball to Jesus and the tap-in, were overruled.
Then came VAR again, this time to City's rescue. Raheem Sterling seemed marginally off after Mahrez chipped a ball to him, which he chipped over Fabianski. However, this time, at the exact time of the chip by Mahrez, Sterling seemed well on and the goal stood.
The last VAR intervention was during the penalty by Aguero. The Argentine missed his penalty after a rather weak attempt but he was awarded a retake. One, Fabianski's feet were both off the line and second, Declan Rice was given a talking to for encroachment. Aguero scored the retaken penalty.
There is an uproar over the game being controversy stricken but none of the decisions was wrong. It must be said that VAR functioned smoothly, eliminating all errors, and gave the right decisions. Even the added time was suitable to the VAR interventions, and also, the decisions didn't take long as the referee doesn't have the authority to walk across and look at the monitor.