Manchester City fielded the most expensive starting line-up in Premier League history when playing West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, but at the conclusion of the game, there was proof that spending vast amounts of money does not automatically guarantee success with the Hammers emerging from the contest as 2-1 winners after assuming a two goal lead during the first half.
West Ham have now won all three away games in the Premier League with Arsenal and Liverpool their other victims. The highest price allegedly paid by the club for a player during the summer was the 12 million euros for French international Dmitri Payet from Marseille whereas several other recruits arrived on loan such as Victor Moses from Chelsea and Manuel Lanzini whose parent club is Al Jazira playing in the UAE league. Other notable arrivals include the experienced striker Nikica Jelavic and Pedro Obiang signed from Italian team Sampdoria for approximately 4 million euros.
All of the West Ham players mentioned above featured in the victory at Manchester City yet their values were cheap compared to the fees paid for Kevin de Bruyne (approximately 75 million euros), Raheem Sterling (60 million) and Nicolas Otamendi (48 million) who all started the game for City while later in the game Wilfried Bony (35 million) appeared from the bench.
It was expected that City would complete another Premier League victory given the talent at their disposal especially as they had won all five previous league games this term without conceding a goal. A midweek 2-1 home defeat by Juventus in the Champions League had somewhat dampened the enthusiasm at the Etihad Stadium but perhaps a degree of over-confidence also existed as the match began.
Within the first half hour, City realised that the West Ham team may not be further Premier League prey as goals from Moses and Diafra Sakho silenced the home supporters. However, De Bruyne reduced the arrears just before the interval with further goals anticipated during the second period.
Yet a likely combination of fatigue among the City players, after their midweek exertions, and a staunch determined display by the West Ham rearguard ensured there were no further goals. Goalkeeper Adrian refused to beaten and as Hammers manager Slaven Bilic implied afterwards, strong teamwork and a willingness to sprint until the end of the game are essential requirements in winning games at such venues as the Etihad Stadium.
The team selected by Bilic contained a group of players with few requirements to justify their expensive price tags but moulded into a unit without fear and with specific responsibilities. In contrast, Manchester City have spent lavishly with the aim of regaining the Premier League title and performing more successfully in the Champions League, and they are expected to win more games than West ham this season. However, there will be occasions from now until May when it is proved that team spirit may prevail over expensive purchases as West Ham demonstrated at the weekend.