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