Manchester City have to overcome the challenge posed by Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United as they look to go into the international break with a 100% win record. The Sky Blues have had a bittersweet week with City legend- Joe Hart’s departure all but confirmed by the club. They completed the formality of the second leg against Steaua Bucharest beating them 1-0 and 6-0 in aggregate. The match had the look of a training ground drill with the only noteworthy attraction being Joe Hart’s possible last appearance for the club. Pep Guardiola has been effusive in his praise for the City players and has reiterated his surprise at the speed the team has been able to execute his instructions.
With a 100% record till now, Pep’s start to life has been fairly successful. But West Ham are expected to pose the biggest threat out of all the matches played so far. They were a thorn in City’s path to success last season and are expected to be difficult to beat on Sunday. West Ham are coming off a disappointing Europa League Qualifying campaign and will look to put their European woes behind them by putting up a solid display at the Etihad.
HERE IS THE PREDICTED MANCHESTER CITY LINE-UP VERSUS WEST HAM UNITED (4-1-4-1)
Willy Caballero is expected to start in goal with Joe Hart on his way out and Claudio Bravo expected to be eased into action. Sagna has been ruled out which enables Zabaleta to take up the right-back spot. John Stones will take up his regular spot in defence and alongside him Nicolas Otamendi might be recalled in tune with Pep’s strategy of employing him to counter West Ham’s long ball and physical approach. Kolarov will take up the position in the left-back with Clichy an option if the Serbian is selected at centre-back.
Fernandinho is expected to take up his usual position in the front of the back four. His dynamism was missed midweek and Pep will be happy to have him back in the side. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne will take up their new places in front of Fernandinho and while Silva has taken exceptionally well to the change, De Bruyne is still coming to terms with the adjustments.
Raheem Sterling will look to carry on his impressive form on the right-wing and Nolito will be stationed on the left-flank. Jesus Navas offers another alternative on the right side after a decent start to his season. Aguero will lead the line with Iheanacho as a back-up.