Friday, February 3, 2023

Manchester City vs West Ham Preview: Can The Hosts Continue Their Good Start?

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

Manchester City face West Ham at the Etihad Stadium as the Sky Blues look to continue their drastic transition under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager. With a perfect start to the season in terms of results, Guardiola has been repeatedly noted praising the players’ willingness to learn and being surprised at the speed with which they have been able to follow his instructions. West Ham meanwhile had a bittersweet week as they followed their first win at the London Stadium with a loss in the Europa League qualifiers against a Romanian mid-table side. While this has certainly come as a blow, the Hammers will look to take positives out of the set-back and will be more focused on the league.

West Ham defeated City in the corresponding fixture last season and Bilic’s troops will be confident they can repeat the feat. But with Pep on board with his football which has been termed by Bilic as ‘not normal’, the task would be lot tougher this time around.

TEAM NEWS

MANCHESTER CITY

Pep Guardiola does not have any fresh injury concerns though a lot of the players will miss out as they near their fitness. Sagna is set to miss out with a hamstring complaint while Iheanacho has recovered from his midweek setback. Claudio Bravo will be eased into action and will most likely make his debut in the Manchester derby after the international break. Vincent Kompany, Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane are also out of contention.

WEST HAM UNITED

Slaven Bilic is hopeful one of Dimitri Payet (knock) and Manuel Lanzini (knee) will be available for the trip to the Etihad. Noble is expected to feature after missing out on the Europa League fixture due to a minor niggle. Havard Nordtveit is expected to miss out with a toe problem while Aaron Cresswell, Sofiane Feghouli, Andre Ayew, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho remain sidelined.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

MANCHESTER CITY (4-1-4-1)

Caballero- Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov- Fernandinho- Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva, Nolito- Aguero

WEST HAM UNITED (4-2-3-1)

Adrian- Byram, Collins, Reid, Masuaku- Noble, Kouyate- Tore, Payet, Antonio- Valencia

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-STOKE

KEY MEN

MANCHESTER CITY

SERGIO AGUERO- The Argentine has started the season in sublime fashion and already looks to be a firm contender for the Golden Boot. Pep Guardiola’s tactics have ensured lots of goal scoring opportunities for him and he has been duly accepting them. His personal record against West Ham will also hold him in good stead. He has been involved in eight goals in his last seven Premier League matches against West Ham United (six goals, two assists) and will be backed to carry on the spree today as well.

WEST HAM UNITED

MICHAIL ANTONIO- The versatile winger has been a revelation since last season. Regularly deployed out of position at right-back, the change in position did not deter the physically imposing Antonio from bombing up the pitch. Depending on the flank he plays on, he will be a real menace either to Zabaleta or Kolarov and this will be something Bilic will try to exploit. He has already got off the mark this season and will love to continue against the title contenders.

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The first goal will play a big part in the way the match will shape up. If City get the first goal early on, they will look to impose themselves on the match and could put in a couple more by the end of the match. But it is not expected to be that easy and as evident by the displays against Sunderland and a majority of the match against Stoke, City have been patchy against Premier League sides. But with the depth in quality, the Sky Blues will expect to come out on top.

T40 PREDICTION: 2-1 MANCHESTER CITY WIN

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