Manchester City clawed their way back to earn a 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday, giving themselves a title boost after it looked like it could slip away. City trailed 2-0 at halftime and fought to earn a point, but Riyad Mahrez’s late penalty mistake means the championship may not be determined until next Sunday.
A goal from Jack Grealish canceled out Jarrod Bowen’s first-half brace after the break and an own goal by Vladimir Coufal. However, City will feel it was a squandered opportunity since Mahrez had a chance to score late from the spot. Craig Dawson was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus in the box following a VAR review. West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski read it through, saving Mahrez’s penalty to keep the scores even.
The London Stadium was rocking as Mark Noble played his farewell home game for West Ham, receiving a standing ovation in the 16th minute. His 549th appearance for the club was significant since he played a critical part in securing a point, with City pushing for the win.
Manchester City’s defensive blunders made things simple for West Ham early on, as Jarrod Bowen found himself through on goal, round the keeper, and scoring in the 24th minute.
Jarrod Bowen rounds Ederson and West Ham take a 1-0 lead over Manchester City!
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— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) May 15, 2022
While Ederson did everything he could to keep Bowen out of the net, he was determined to continue his outstanding season in which he had scored 12 goals and assisted on ten more. Michail Antonio would find Bowen for his second of the game as Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte got tangled up in defense again, allowing Bowen to level shortly before halftime.
City battled back in the second half, with Grealish’s goal in the 49th minute giving them hope before an own goal in the 69th.
While not a decisive outcome in the championship race, City’s ability to recover a point is noteworthy because they are currently four points ahead of Liverpool. The Reds head to Southampton on Tuesday, where they trail by six goals in the goal differential and hope Manchester City drops more points on the last day of the season. On the other hand, West Ham might earn a Europa League berth on the last day since they trail Manchester United by only two points.
If Liverpool defeats Southampton, City will need to beat Aston Villa on Sunday to seal the championship without relying on other outcomes. However, if Liverpool fails to win both of their remaining games, City’s season finale will be meaningless.
Guardiola won’t be happy with the defense.
After that, it wouldn’t be unexpected to see Fernandinho benched for the season finale. He’s already on his way out of Manchester at the end of the season, and his errors in this one were too significant to overlook.
Guardiola will be upset that Fernandinho only won 60% of his duels on the day. He, like Laporte, was caught out of position several times, allowing West Ham to get shots off on route to their two goals. The city would not have to sweat on the last day with a little stronger defensive showing. The defense has been one of City’s strongest suits this season, but with Ruben Dias, John Stones, and Kyle Walker all out, Guardiola is forced to make difficult decisions.
Laporte struggled as well, although he was rushed back after being pulled early in City’s previous encounter against Wolves. Guardiola doesn’t have many options, but with Aston Villa’s strikers, they may be able to exploit mistakes in the same manner that West Ham did. There is enough midfield depth to bring Rodri back as a center-back if necessary, and young CJ Egan-Riley could potentially be given a workout on the last day, though the club will want to avoid that.
State of the title race
With this tie, Liverpool has been given a minor reprieve ahead of their meeting. On Tuesday, the Reds travel to Southampton, trailing City by four points, but things might get interesting as the leaders still have a seven-goal edge on goal differential.
If Liverpool wins against Southampton, they will be only one point behind City. The city would still win the title if they could match or improve Liverpool’s result on the last day, as long as their goal difference advantage remained intact. If Liverpool draws, nothing changes since even if City loses on the previous day, the Reds will need to win and reverse the goal differential. Manchester City would win the Premier League title on Tuesday if Liverpool lost at Saint Mary’s Stadium.
The Hammers chase Europe.
While a Europa League qualification may seem like a minor letdown for a West Ham team on track for a top-four spot at various stages throughout the season, given the squad’s fragility, it would still conclude a great season. Consecutive Europa League participation would be an achievement for a team unfamiliar with this level of competition. West Ham must overcome Brighton on a penultimate day to secure a Europa League berth and watch Manchester United lose at Crystal Palace. West Ham has a higher goal difference than United; matching their points by winning and United drawing will suffice.