Three things we learned from Man City’s win vs. West Ham

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LONDON — Manchester City put on an attacking clinic in their 4-0 win at West Ham United on Wednesday. 

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Gabriel Jesus lit up the game as City’s young attacking talent ran riot to put some pressure on Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur ahead of them in the table.

[ MORE: Man City’s future on show ]

Here’s what we learned from a masterclass in east London.


JESUS RULES SUPREME

Getting off the train in Stratford, east London, a few Man City fans were walking in front of me. Seeing their sky blue shirts, a couple of fans approached them.

“We are Brazilian,” they said, half whispering. “We are hear to watch Gabriel Jesus.”

They don’t need to whisper about it anymore. The kid is a star in the making.

After his impressive first start for City in the FA Cup win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, the 19-year-old carried that form on and delivered more magic.

From the first whistle Jesus looked on another level, cutting in from the right and dribbling past three West Ham defenders before clipping in a dangerous cross which was cleared. He was only just getting started.

For City’s first goal he surged forward in support of Kevin De Bruyne and played an inch-perfect ball back to KDB for the Belgian attacker to slot home without breaking stride. Before he scored his first goal in a City shirt to make it 3-0 he played a divine ball in-behind to Sterling which was put on a plate. He has everything.

The one area he also excels in is his work rate. Often he chases back but he has to watch the timing of his challenges as when on a yellow card (dished out for waving an imaginary card) he clattered in to a West Ham attacker and gave away a free kick in his own half.

With time he will learn and with time it seems he will develop into one of the best young strikers in the world. The $34 million City paid Palmeiras last summer for Jesus looks like an absolute bargain. They may will be ruing the fact that the deal only allowed him to join in January.


CITY’S FUTURE SECURE

When City’s third goal went in following a fluid move, the camera panned to Sergio Aguero’s face on the bench. He looked stunned. That’s because he knows now, more than ever, his place in Man City’s starting lineup is seriously under threat.

And that’s because it wasn’t just Jesus putting on a show on Wednesday. His partners in crime up front were just as dangerous with Raheem Sterling and especially Leroy Sane cutting West Ham’s pedestrian defense to shreds.

Sane, 21, is really finding his stride after a slow start to his first season in England. For City’s second goal he nutmegged Sam Byram in ridiculously easy fashion and then surged past Jose Fonte like he wasn’t there before finding David Silva at the back post to slot home. He then whipped in a cross which Jesus couldn’t quite reach early in the second half and was a constant pest.

Sterling, 22, was just as dangerous, drilling a shot just wide with the first attempt of the game, playing in Jesus for his goal and then winning a penalty kick for City’s fourth. Kevin de Bruyne buzzed around behind the front three of Sane, Jesus and Sterling and got a rest in the second half. Those four players are the future of City’s attack.

No wonder Aguero looked so shocked and concerned on the bench. City’s future is bright and the Argentine may struggle to be an integral part of it.

He isn’t on his own though. With Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta joining Aguero on the bench and Yaya Toure’s deal up in the summer, the changing of the guard at City has begun.


PAYET A DISTANT MEMORY, FOR NOW…

Outside West Ham’s new home at the London Stadium there used to be a mural to Dimitri Payet. That’s right, used to be.

In one one season he managed to become a god of London’s east end, worshiped by every single Hammers fans for his outrageous goals, flicks and assists.

In one day he whipped all of that away.

When Payet, 29, handed in a transfer request and refused to play for West Ham in early January, the entire fanbase turned against him. His manager Slaven Bilic came out in the press and hammered him for letting down the staff, his teammates and the fans.

Payet trained with the U-23 side for a few weeks and was eventually sold to Marseille the day before Deadline Day for $31.3 million. He took a pay cut to join his former club, who he left in the summer of 2015 to join West Ham, and it has also been revealed he wasn’t paid by the Hammers for January for his behavior.

West Ham’s owners lambasted Payet’s behavior but on his unveiling at Marseille he said he didn’t have to answer to anyone. He’s quite happy with his decision.

Bilic has suggested that over time Hammers fans may appreciate all of the magic moments Payet delivered in their seventh-place finish last season and be happy they saw him in his prime.

For now, though, the only physical reminder of Payet is a mural which has been painted over. Nothing more, nothing less.

Klopp: Liverpool “not 500 miles away” from Man City’s standard

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Jurgen Klopp remains bullish on his Liverpool’s credentials as one of the Premier League’s top-four sides title challengers this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

While everyone else might be writing off the Reds due to their propensity for defensive disasters on an every-game basis, Klopp refuses to concede that a gap of “500 miles” exists between his side and Manchester City, the early-days runaway leaders of the 2017-18 season — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t compare City with us, but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think, ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologize for the season so far because one team is flying.”

“Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.”

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

All due respect to Klopp and Liverpool, the league table says City currently have 25 points (having played one game more), while Liverpool have 13. That’s not a difference of 500 points, but taking into account not only results but performances, it might as well be.

Ligue 1: Falcao, Balde score to keep Monaco close to PSG

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PARIS (AP) French champion Monaco got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against Caen on Saturday.

Monaco lost three and drew one of its previous four games in all competitions. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was largely in control against a Caen side that started brightly and faded after Keita Balde’s opening goal and first for Monaco.

“It was important to win, to get a bit of confidence back,” Jardim said. “We’ve been working hard and the players were very serious today.”

Captain Radamel Falcao scored his league-leading 13th from the penalty spot in the 59th, confidently sending goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way.

The win moved second-place Monaco within three points of Paris Saint-Germain, having played one game more. Unbeaten PSG is away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Falcao’s partnership with teen star Kylian Mbappe was crucial to Monaco’s charge to the league title and the Champions League semifinals last season. Mbappe left to join PSG in a high-profile move — as did several other key players — but Falcao’s new partnership with the unselfish Balde looks a promising one.

“We’ve lost a few players and we need a bit of time, it’s been a bit difficult for us,” Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said. “I hope we can stay at the top of the table and that the young players can shine. We have a lot of quality here.”

Balde has been sharp in his handful of appearances since joining from Lazio in the offseason, but mainly as a link player and a provider.

This time, the Senegal forward finished off the move as he ran onto Thomas Lemar’s perfectly weighted pass into his path, cut across a defender on the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lemar almost created another goal when his corner was headed against the crossbar by Brazilian defender Jemerson late in the first half.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt from the spot after Slovenian midfielder Jan Repas fouled attacking midfielder Rony Lopes.


After a tricky start to his tenure at Nantes, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has turned things around.

Nantes beat Guingamp 2-1 at home to move up to third place, extending Ranieri’s unbeaten run to eight matches after losing the first two.

Nantes, which scored through defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, is just two points behind Monaco.

The 2 Robbies: Terriers Triumph And Chelsea Leave It Late

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start today’s show off by discussing Huddersfield Town’s surprising win against Manchester United (00:20), Jose Mourinho’s measured post-match interview (03:50), praise Manchester City again (10:30), discuss Sean Dyche’s next move (16:10), analyze that exciting match between Chelsea and Watford (18:30) and finally, weigh in on Slaven Bilic’s future at West Ham United (27:30).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

La Liga: Barca win to maintain lead, but Valencia won’t go away

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona regained a four-point cushion atop the Spanish league with a ho-hum 2-0 win over visiting Malaga and surging Valencia dismissed Sevilla 4-0 at home on Saturday.

Barcelona faced last-placed Malaga in the closing match of the day, with added pressure from second-placed Valencia, which has won five in a row.

Barcelona is unbeaten after starting with seven straight wins and drawing with Atletico Madrid last week.

Seldom-used Gerard Deulofeu opened the scoring for Barcelona after just two minutes, and Andres Iniesta celebrated his first of the season in the second half thanks to a brilliant assist by Lionel Messi.

Defending champion Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.

Barcelona benefited from a flagrant referee misjudgment to get its go-ahead goal against Malaga. Left back Lucas Digne was allowed to center the ball after it clearly crossed the byline, and Deulofeu acrobatically back-footed it inside the net.

Despite the blow, the visitors got back up and managed to neutralize Barcelona for most of the first half, but lost striker Diego Rolan just before the second period. The Uruguayan import was forced off by injury.

Without Rolan, Malaga lacked bite in its pressure of the home backline, and Barcelona was able to polish ball circulation and find Messi with more frequency.

Messi received a clean pass from defender Javier Mascherano, drew the defense, and dropped a perfect pass for Iniesta, whose shot was deflected by defender Roberto Rosales on its way to the upper left corner.

Malaga surrendered and Barcelona dominated the rest of the way.


Gonzalo Guedes opened the scoring for Valencia near halftime with a majestic strike from outside the box after deftly outmaneuvering two defenders on the chase.

Simone Zaza added his eighth league goal after the break with a spin and low cross shot. Santi Mina came off the bench and scored the third with just five minutes to go, finishing off a speedy counterattack for the hosts.

But the show was all Guedes, and the Portuguese midfielder rounded off his great game with the closer, subtly poking the ball over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in added time.

Sevilla has lost three in a row in all competitions. Managed by Eduardo Berizzo, the team started off red-hot in La Liga but has floundered lately, ranking fifth.