Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: West Ham 1 Manchester City 3

They may not satisfy the purists, and they still do not have the look of champions, but Manchester City are grinding their way towards the apex of the Premier League.

As Roberto Mancini approaches his first anniversary as manager, his side moved joint top of the table with Arsenal, second only on goal difference.

City rarely got out of second gear against a West Ham United side that is now in serious trouble, rooted to the foot of the table and slipping further behind their rivals. While questions continue to be asked about Avram Grant’s future, Mancini is quickly dispelling doubts about his suitability to take City to a higher level.

He flew straight back to Italy to see his sick father after the game, but his assistant Brian Kidd spoke on his behalf, comparing him favourably with his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, while being realistic about City’s title chances.

“The work the manager puts in on the training pitch is absolutely fantastic, his work ethic, his passion and desire are first class. I think the club is very lucky to have him,” Kidd said.

City are hardly cavalier in their approach, but only their Manchester rivals United have lost fewer league games, and Kidd added: “You have to be able to play well, win ugly and have luck to win in the Premier League.

“We are happy to win and I don’t think we have been top since I was playing in the Seventies, but you don’t win anything in December. Hopefully we will still be in the shake up come April.”

That will be no problem if they keep meeting sides who roll over as easily as West Ham did. Grant admitted City were by far the better side, though he stopped short of conceding the game was effectively lost before it started. “They are a better team than us, very strong and physical. It was difficult to compete against them, and we gave the ball away cheaply.”

Indeed, West Ham struggled to get the ball off City, and when they did, could barely string two passes together. Even without the suspended Carlos Tévez, City created nearly all the chances of note, and the only surprise was that half an hour passed before Yaya Touré opened the scoring. The Ivorian, playing just behind a forward line of Jo and Mario Balotelli, had already seen one shot saved by Robert Green at the end of a powerful run.

But he gave the goalkeeper no chance when Gareth Barry cut back a low pass from the left wing. Touré hit the ball first time with his left foot, a stunning shot from the edge of the penalty area that was still rising as it hit the roof of the net. Balotelli had a game to forget, shooting wide from close range in the opening minutes and then having a header cleared off the line before half-time.

When he was replaced by Adam Johnson moments after being booked for dissent, he walked straight down the tunnel with a face like thunder.

During this spell, West Ham threatened briefly to come back, but had a penalty appeal denied when Kolo Touré headed the ball against his younger brother’s arm.

The sense of injustice increased when Yaya Touré then surged into the West Ham penalty area minutes later, leaving James Tomkins in his wake, and shot against the post, with the ball rebounding off Green’s back and into the net.

There was no way back for the Hammers, and Johnson’s goal nine minutes from time just added to their misery.

Spain international David Silva ran towards their defence before slipping the ball behind Matthew Upson, allowing substitute Johnson to run in, take it round Green and fire home from a tight angle.

West Ham’s 89th-minute goal, when Tomkins headed in a corner with the aid of a deflection off Kolo Touré, was of little consolation. Upton Park was half empty at the final whistle, while City’s supporters celebrated Mancini in song.

Kidd denied recent stories of dissent in the ranks or an aversion by some players to the manager’s methods.

“There has been no resistance, that’s the thing. He has been focused on what it takes.

“Remember, the boss has come over from Serie A where he has been successful and won things, so some of the coverage has been a little bit disrespectful.

“What the boss wants, he gets his point across and that’s it, like with Sir Alex – you do it.”

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