Manchester City v West Ham United: Alvaro Negredo the enforcer takes complete control as king of his domain

 

Sam Allardyce teams are not meant to be about timidity and deference but that is precisely what West Ham United presented yesterday at the Etihad Stadium. This is Alvaro Negredo’s backyard, his home turf, and West Ham allowed him to exert his  proprietorial authority  with barely a whimper of resistance.

Imported players tend to take time to settle and yet Negredo has, with instant effect, made the Etihad  Stadium his own personal patch. City, as everyone knows, have been ferocious at home this season. Edin Dzeko’s second was their 59th goal in their 15th home game this season. With most of the bottom half of the Premier League still to come here in the second half of the season – including, ominously, West Ham United on the final day – they could well make it into three figures.

City do have finer players than Negredo, players who can claim to be among the world’s best, as Yaya Touré, David Silva and Sergio Aguero can. Negredo, though, is something different. He is City’s attack leader, their forward enforcer, who lets the opposition know from the very start that this is his patch and his rules apply here.

This was Negredo’s second hat-trick of the season, the first coming against CSKA Moscow two months ago. Both hat-tricks form part of his astonishing recent run at the Etihad – 14 goals in his last 11 home appearances, not all of them from the start.

Some of those goals, certainly, were more important than these. There was his game-turning equaliser in the 3-1 win against Everton – their opponents’ first league defeat of the season. There was his winner, just before the half-time break, in the Boxing Day classic against Liverpool. The pursuit of the title, of course, is more important than the League Cup, but this performance was more than enough to send City to Wembley.

 

It took only 12 minutes for Negredo to impose himself, to show the West Ham defence that leaving a long straight pass from midfield – as they did – was not an option. With excellent control and clarity, Negredo waited for the ball and volleyed it into the far bottom corner.

Negredo has done most of his best work alongside Sergio Aguero – as anyone would – but his unlikely partnership with Dzeko made its third straight appearance, with its biggest success yet. Neither are natural link-men, and City have struggled with it before, but it was an excellent one-two in midfield that set up Negredo’s second. Dzeko came under no real pressure from Roger Johnson and threaded a pass through to Negredo. His first touch took it away from George McCartney, his second hit it into the bottom corner.

The third goal, City’s fourth, required nothing more than one clean strike. West Ham’s defending was dismal – they played as if  they had no idea that Manchester City might be quite useful with the ball – and Negredo, even having scored two, was allowed to stand freely in the box following a corner. The ball ended up at his feet and all he had to do was aim and fire.

There was not a single part of the pitch that was not Negredo’s private property. Early on, he charged back into City’s half for an athletic interception of a rare West Ham attack. Just before the break, when most players were catching their breadth, he nicked it off Modibo Maiga in the box.

Negredo was eventually taken off, with 11 minutes left. City have a rather more difficult encounter at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon. The damage, the brutal imposition, the fierce, bullying reminder of exactly who is in charge at the Etihad Stadium, had already been done.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments