Manchester City's quick development under Pep Guardiola continued with an initially impressive but ultimately nervy 3-1 victory over West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon (28 August). The hosts, who opened a new era with wins over Sunderland and Stoke City that were sandwiched in between a six-goal aggregate thrashing of Steaua Bucharest in the play-off round of the Champions League, dominated the first half with incisive passing and devastating movement.
It took City just seven minutes to take the lead through Raheem Sterling. The England winger, who has enjoyed something of a resurgence under the new manager after an underwhelming first season following his £49m ($64.3m) move from Liverpool and a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign, fired home Nolito's low cross after the new signing had been released by a clever pass from compatriot David Silva.
Things got worse for West Ham soon afterwards when an unmarked Fernandinho powered a header beyond the helpless Adrian after being picked out by a perfect free-kick from Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian then spurned a near-identical chance to Sterling's, while Nolito hit the side netting and also bundled home a set-piece only to be denied a third Premier League goal by the offside flag.
Despite the plaudits showered on John Stones for another measured performance before his second-half substitution, City's lingering defensive frailties - they have yet to keep a clean sheet in the league so far this season - were exposed when Willy Caballero failed to cut out a searching cross from Arthur Masuaku and Michail Antonio rose above Gael Clichy to reduce the deficit from close range.
New goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was not considered for an immediate debut following confirmation of his £15m move from Barcelona on Thursday and Joe Hart reverted back to his now familiar back-up role amid reports that he is considering a loan offer from Serie A outfit Torino.
Sergio Aguero appeared fortunate to escape punishment for an elbow on Winston Reid that left the Hammers centre-back needing to be substituted. The Football Association will no doubt be urged to take a look at the incident and any retrospective ban for the clinical striker would see him miss the post-international break derby against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Substitute Samir Nasri saw a late attempt cleared off the line by Sam Byram and he also blazed over after Sterling had shot just wide.
Silva crashed an injury-time strike against the post before finding Sterling, who rounded Adrian and squeezed the ball past James Collins from a tight angle to preserve City's 100% record with Guardiola at the helm. Defeat was further disappointment for West Ham, who were once again without Dimitri Payet but did confirm the loan signing of Juventus and Italy striker Simone Zaza hours before kick-off.
In the day's instantly forgettable early contest, West Brom and Middlesbrough played out an exceptionally dour goalless draw at The Hawthorns that only served to highlight the desperate need for Tony Pulis to add significantly more flair to his workmanlike squad before Wednesday night's transfer deadline. The Baggies have added just two new faces during the current window in winger Matt Phillips and Everton loanee Brendan Galloway, but the manager revealed in his pre-match press conference that he remains confident of recruiting up to five signings before the market closes for business.
Newly-promoted 'Boro, meanwhile, maintained their unbeaten start to a first top-flight campaign in seven years. Aitor Karanka's side began the season with a hard-fought draw against Stoke and followed that up by securing bragging rights over Sunderland in the Wear-Tees derby courtesy of a brace from Uruguayan striker Cristhian Stuani.