Premier League - Man City misfire in West Ham stalemate

Premier League, Upton Park - West Ham United 0, Manchester City 0.

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Premier League - Man City misfire in West Ham stalemate
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West Ham v Manchester City, Kolo Toure and Matt Jarvis

A solid defensive effort earned West Ham United a 0-0 Premier League draw against Manchester City at Upton Park.

The champions failed to find a breakthrough against an organised Hammers side who were well worth a point.

It could have been better for Sam Allardyce's men, but for a disputed offside decision that chalked off an early Kevin Nolan goal.

City never hit their stride, and there appeared to be friction between manager Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli when the Italian striker was taken off after a hit-and-miss display.

Although City remain unbeaten after 10 matches, they are third in the table behind Manchester United and Chelsea thanks to their fourth draw of the season. West Ham go eighth, and are easily the best-equipped of the promoted sides to stay up.

City have not scored in the first half of any away match since April 22, and although they dominated possession it was West Ham who created all the early chances.

Kevin Nolan had the ball in the net in the fourth minute, but had his chicken dance cut short by an offside flag; the replay suggested that the Hammers captain was very slightly offside.

Next came Mohamed Diame, scorer of a brilliant goal in a recent Saturday night game against Arsenal. The Senegal midfielder shimmed in from the left before blasting a powerful shot over from the edge of the box.

The impressive Yossi Benayoun then went close, meeting Matt Jarvis's cross with a sidefoot volley that pinged off the bar on its way over.

Then Andy Carroll went agonisingly close to his first West Ham goal, as he drove a low shot just wide from the edge of the box with Joe Hart rooted to the spot.

Despite failing to create clear-cut chances, City were far from overrun and it was no surprise to see them start to threaten West Ham.

Balotelli started and provided a typically moody, mercurial display. The Italian did well to reach a Carlos Tevez free-kick, but fired over with his outstretched right foot, and then hit an overhead kick wide.

Kolo Toure then found brother Yaya in space on the right side of the box but the midfielder, whose form has dipped of late, blazed his shot wide.

Mancini's half-time team talk failed to elicit the desired reaction, as it was again West Ham fashioning the better chances early in the second half. An unmarked Nolan headed wide, while Carroll saw an acrobatic overhead kick deflected wide.

As in the first period, City gradually took control but rarely troubled Jussi Jaaskelainen. Tevez fired over from the edge of the box when he should have hit the target, but otherwise this was a tale of City failing to convert possession and territory into goals or even goalscoring chances.

Mancini never looked likely to find the solution, and there was an air of resignation about the 84th minute substitution that saw the lively Tevez replaced by a holding midfielder, Javi Garcia. The injury suffered by James Milner in the warm-up, which kept him out of this game, will only darken Mancini's mood.

MAN OF THE MATCH

James Collins (West Ham) - The man at the heart of the Hammers defence put in a display that mixed cool-headed positional play with the occasional blood-and-guts challenge when required. Despite hobbling off on 84 minutes, he was immense.

PLAYER RATINGS

WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen 7, O’Brien 7, Reid 7, McCartney 7, Collins 8, Jarvis 7, Nolan 6, Noble 6, Diame 7, Benayoun 7, Carroll 7. Subs: Spence N/A, O'Neil 6, Cole N/A.

MAN CITY: Hart 7, Kolo Toure 5, Kompany 7, Nastasic 6, Clichy 6, Yaya Toure 5, Nasri 6, Barry 6, Tevez 7, Dzeko 6, Balotelli 5. Subs: Sinclair N/A, Garcia N/A, Aguero 6.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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