Slaven Bilic thinks West Ham are capable of upsetting Manchester City on Sunday, in the same way they did last season.
New City manager Pep Guardiola has overseen four consecutive victories since joining them from Bayern Munich, but Bilic is drawing on fond memories from last September.
West Ham, who are on the brink of signing striker Simone Zaza from Juventus, won 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium to halt a strong start from what was then Manuel Pellegrini’s side, before going on to hold them to a 2-2 draw at Upton Park in January.
Speaking at his pre-match media conference, manager Bilic – whose side were denied a spot in the Europa League by Astra – said: “It wasn’t very likely for us to win there last year as Man City had started great with five wins, 15 points and no goals conceded.
“We played well in the first half and scored two goals. In the second half they put us under pressure, scored, but missed chances.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do it again this season. Our plan is to have a good game and if we have a good game, we can take something out of it.
“What gives us hope is how Sunderland and Stoke made it hard for them.”
Bilic, though, has been impressed by what he has seen from City under Guardiola’s strategic leadership.
He added: “Their coach and tactics are different from last year. They play football in the full-back areas, which is not normal.
“It’s going to be hard of course. They have shown already they have top-class players who have gelled. They were most impressive in their game in Bucharest.
“It’s a big challenge – we know our injury situation is not good.”
Havard Nordtveit (foot) is expected to miss out, while Dimitri Payet (knock) and Manuel Lanzini (knee) will be assessed ahead of kick-off, with Bilic hoping at least one will be able to play.
Andre Ayew (thigh), Andy Carroll, Aaron Cresswell (both knee) and Sofiane Feghouli (hamstring) are among the big names definitely ruled out.