Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Jarrod Bowen torments nervy Man City as West Ham draw hands Liverpool and Klopp huge dilemma

West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen celebrating after scoring against Man City

A Jarrod Bowen brace helped West Ham hold Man City to a 2-2 draw, with the result handing Liverpool a huge dilemma ahead of their clash with Southampton on Tuesday.

Aymeric Laporte was passed fit to start alongside Fernandinho at the back. Man City’s backline was severely weakened nonetheless, and Craig Dawson came within a whisker of exploting West Ham’s height advantage early.

The centre-half remained up-field after a corner broke down and rose highest to head the subsequent delivery just over. It was a warning – as if Man City needed one – that their final few steps to Premier League glory wouldn’t be straightforward.

The crowd were surprisingly subdued for what was substitute Mark Noble’s final home game in a Hammers shirt. The fact City quickly set about controlling 80 percent of possession did little to rouse the fans from their slumber.

West Ham appeared fortunate to escape without conceding a penalty when Kurt Zouma kicked the back of Gabriel Jesus’ leg. VAR did review the incident but surprisingly chose not to act.

That moment would prove pivotal moments later when the hosts scored a goal that will have been cheered as much on Merseyside as it was in East London.

Jarrod Bowen sprung the offside trap and raced away on goal with only Ederson to beat. The winger rounded the Brazilian and composed himself before tucking away from an increasingly tight angle.

That had the home fans in full voice who began to roar with approval with each City attack their defence repelled.

Jesus cleverly spun and shot as City sought a quick response. Lukasz Fabianski was rooted to the spot, though breathed a sigh of relief when the effort fizzed narrowly wide.

Yet for all their possession, City weren’t moving the ball with enough pace or intesity to truly trouble the Hammers. And on the stroke of half-time, Bowen made it two.

The lively winger again exploited City’s high line when collecting Michail Antonio’s deft flick over the top. Fernandinho pushed to get back, but Bowen rifled his shot through the Brazilian’s legs and inside Ederson’s far post.

Man City fightback begins

But City are made of stern stuff and within three minutes after the break, Pep Guardiola’s side had halved the deficit.

Jack Grealish was in the right place at the right time to stride on to Rodri’s backwards header. The £100m man fired his effort goalwards with a slight deflection off Dawson causing the ball to bounce up over the hand of Fabianski.

City were buzzing with purpose and intent and causing their opponents far greater problems than they had prior to the break. The fact Fabianski saw yellow for time wasting after just an hour had elapsed spoke volumes.

Yet West Ham retained a threat when afforded the chance to counter too. And but for Bowen shooting into the side netting after an almighty mix-up between Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko, City’s race could have been run.

Antonio too spurned a glorious opportunity when capitalising on an under-hit Fernandinho back-pass. And in typical City fashion, those misses would be punished moments later.

Riyad Mahrez whipped a dangerous free-kick into an area that asked questions. Vladimir Coufal had no choice but to go for the ball, though could only divert past into his own net while at full stretch.

City’s tails were up and with seven minutes remaining, Mahrez was afforded the chance to complete the fight-back from the spot. VAR adjudged Dawson to have felled Jesus after referee Anthony Taylor initially saw nothing wrong.

Mahrez’s effort was struck firmly, though Fabianski guessed correctly, diving to his left to beat the spot-kick to safety.

City pushed for the winner but time was always against then when made to settle for a 2-2 draw in the capital.

The point puts City four points clear of the Reds who now have a game in hand. Liverpool’s next fixture is against the Saints on Tuesday night with Klopp now facing a crucial selection dilemma.

Both Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah were substituted early in the FA Cup final due to muscle complaints. However, two Liverpool wins and a City draw with Aston Villa on final day would be enough to see the Reds crowned champions.

All eyes will be on Klopp’s team selection at St. Mary’s in two days’ time.