Verdict: Man City/Man City
Best Odds: 4/5
Premier League leaders Manchester City will be looking to keep their maximum record intact when they host West Ham at their Etihad Stadium, with Pep Guardiola winning his first four matches since arriving from Bayern Munich. The Hammers, on the other hand, need to try and make amends for the disappointing European exit, meaning we should see an interesting affair on Sunday afternoon.
One of world’s leading coaches Pep Guardiola was always going to bring his ideas to Etihad Stadium and he has already managed to leave his stamp on the squad, adding several high-profile footballers, while the likes of Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony and Samir Nasri were deemed surplus to requirements. Manchester City have just made a real coup by luring Claudio Bravo from Barcelona, and no doubts that Guardiola sees the Chilean as integral to his preferred style of play. And while the team are still going through a transition period, Manchester City have done well to avoid any early slip-ups, with the good atmosphere in the squad likely to help the team gel earlier than expected. After hammering the likes of Steaua and Stoke City, the Citizens took their foot off gas in the return leg of the Champions League play-offs, as key men were rested for the West Ham clash. With the Hammers largely struggling for form, Man City have a good chance to record an easy win against the team that are expected to make life difficult for all title contenders, and chances are the hosts will take Sunday’s game very seriously.
The likes of Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne are set to be recalled, while Claudio Bravo is set to be handed a debut.
Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan remain on the sidelines, while Bacary Sagna is the latest casualty.
Following some promising showings from last season, everybody expects West Ham to mount a serious top 4 challenge this term, even though the competition is as fierce as ever. However, the Hammers have experienced plenty of problems this summer, having struggled to attract high-profile players to the club in spite of the sizeable transfer kitty, and seeing as how Slaven Bilic was unable to properly reinforce the squad, it is not that surprising to see his side struggle for form. Chances are that the mercurial form of Dimitri Payet has been sorely missed, with the Frenchman still not in the best shape after starring for France at the Euro 2016 finals, while several injuries to first team regulars only added insult to injury. As a result, West Ham won just one of first four fixtures, scoring mere three goals in the process, and, for the second season running, Astra Giurgiu eliminated them from the Europa League. European elimination could prove a blessing in disguise due to the fact that the Hammers can now fully focus on domestic competitions, but they will not have an excuse if they fail to at least repeat last season’s success. At a time when Payet is completely out of form and few other starters are out injured, West Ham don’t look like they can match star-studded Man City side.
Enner Valencia and Adrian Martinez should be recalled, while Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini are also expected to start.
However, Andy Carroll, Aaron Cresswell, Andre Ayew, Sofiane Feghouli and Diafra Sakho are all unavailable through injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Both teams scored in each of last season’s two Premier League meetings
- Man City have nine wins in last ten home games vs West Ham (L1)
- The Hammers won the same fixture 2-1 last season
- Man City have won all four games this term
- West Ham scored three goals in four matches this season
Manchester City have been raising their form of late and with all key men rested in midweek, they should be in much better shape than West Ham. The Hammers have a number of important missings, while also struggling for form, so we seriously doubt they can get something from Etihad Stadium.
Verdict: Man City/Man City
Best Odds: 4/5