After City was held to a frustrating draw by the struggling West Brom, Pep Guardiola said, “you have to win this kind of game” indicating how frustrated he was.
Manchester City seemed on course for a customary home win against West Brom when Ilkay Gundogan applied a first-time finish to Sterling’s cutback after half an hour. However, the midfielder’s first goal was canceled out before half-time when a volley on the turn from Semi Ajayi deflected off Ruben Dias and wrong-footed City’s keeper Ederson.
It was the first goal City had conceded in 608 minutes in all competitions. it was later on followed by a valiant backs-to-the0wall effort from Slaven Bilic’s visitors who heroically defended.
The visitor’s goalkeeper, Sam Johnstone made a two time save to deny City victory and land them at the sixth position in the Premier League table.
Guardiola’s side has great players although the loss of midfielder David Silva to Real Sociedad in the close season and Sergio Aguero to injury has robbed them of the key attacking threats.
For all their possessions, clear chances were at a premium. Benjamin Mendy and Rodri were both off-target with efforts that could be classed as more hopeful than threatening.
Sterling’s inventiveness created Gundogan’s goal as he delayed his cutback just long enough to tee up the Germany midfielder in the perfect spot, but too often City chose the wrong option and ended up running into a red and yellow-shirted wall.
Johnstone denied Sterling after the interval with a smart reaction save but as desperate clearance followed desperate clearance and block followed block, City boss Pep Guardiola became more and more agitated.
At one point he almost resorted to chasing after the ball when it went out of play to try and maintain his side’s attacking momentum, and when fourth official Anthony Taylor was about to signal the minimum amount of additional time to be played, Guardiola amusingly stuck his head over the board, as if to say the number was wrong.
Back on the bench after a bout of gastroenteritis, the introduction of Aguero midway through the second period signaled fresh hope for City. But the Argentine missed his best chance three minutes from time – and former Manchester United keeper Johnstone did the rest.
“You don’t have to be so clever to see the gap between this year and previous years [in our results],” Guardiola said.
“It is not confidence, Sergio Aguero is injured for four months, but we create chances, we are there we just can’t score.”