The Premier League returns during the week and these two sides will be familiar with each other, having played at the beginning of the month in the FA Cup. Manchester City ran out 5-0 winners on that occasion, delivering one of their best performances of the season, but they will be coming up against a different side on Wednesday, as the hosts are playing with confidence. Despite an improvement in performance, City still aren’t getting the results that they need in the league and this one will be seen as a must win. The top six is so tight this season and City can’t afford many more slip-ups in matches against the rest of the league.
Despite Dimitri Payet’s departure, West Ham are on a high at the moment after some good results in the league. They may not have been against the best sides, but they can only beat what is in front of them and they have played with a lot more confidence. This season has been frustrating for West Ham fans as they have struggled in their new stadium and haven’t come close to replicating last year’s success. However, things are now improving and they should be looking for a top half finish.
Manchester City are currently 5th in the league and that won’t be seen as good enough, especially after their blistering start. The main problem has been that Pep Guardiola hasn’t been given the squad that he needs, with some positions being neglected during the summer. That will be partially his fault as well as he will have a say in the transfer dealings of the club. It was always going to be a difficult job for the Spaniard and he needs to be given time, but it is imperative that they secure a top four finish to continue improving.
Guardiola’s men have already beaten West Ham twice this season, with the league match at the Etihad Stadium ending in a 3-1 win. The goals were scored by Raheem Sterling (2) and Fernandinho, while Michail Antonio netted for the visitors. Meanwhile, in this fixture last season, it ended level with braces from Enner Valencia and Sergio Aguero.
- Dimitri Payet has created more chances (74) than anyone else in the Premier League this season. He will be a big miss for West Ham, but they have won both of the league matches they have played in his absence.
- Manchester City have only kept two clean sheets in their last 12 Premier League matches.
The return of Andy Carroll has been huge for West Ham, as he is a reliable source of goals when he is fit and he provides a presence up front, capable of holding the ball up. It is no surprise that they have managed to play a lot better since his return, as the other strikers at the club aren’t good enough to be regular starters in the Premier League. The main problem that Carroll has had is his injury record as it has held him back. If he managed to stay injury-free, he would be a regular in the England squad, as there are no other players like him in the game at the moment. At the age of 28, he will be reaching the peak of his career, which makes it crucial that he doesn’t suffer any serious injuries over the next two or three years. This season, he is averaging a goal every 133 minutes and if he maintains that over the second half of the season, that would represent a good year for the striker. He can cause Manchester City problems as their defence isn’t the strongest and they can be unsettled in the air.
The Brazilian has had discipline problems this season, but he is an important player for Manchester City and they are a better side when he is available. He is an excellent midfielder and one of the few players in the squad that can successfully carry out Guardiola’s game plan, with others lacking the stamina and tactical understanding. City’s midfield has been a problem in recent weeks as they have been missing their starting two central midfielders. Although Ilkay Gundogan won’t be available for a while, the return of Fernandinho will improve City and they should now have a side that is able to dominate matches consistently. Guardiola will need to make sure that his midfielder is more careful in terms of tackling and if he can control that side to his game, things should improve for City.
Andy Carroll is a doubt, but he should start. Mark Noble is also facing a late battle to be fit. Angelo Ogbonna, Diafra Sakho, Arthur Masuaku, Gokhan Tore and Alvaro Arbeloa won’t play. Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte could be in line for their debuts.
Sergio Aguero is facing a late fitness tests as he suffers with a knock. Ilkay Gundogan will be unavailable through injury. Fernandinho will return from his suspension providing a huge boost to Pep Guardiola.
West Ham have been good in recent weeks and they have managed the Payet situation superbly. It has brought the club and supporters closer, which has helped the team on the pitch. The signings of Snodgrass and Fonte will be good for the club and it will be interesting to see whether they are selected for this one. I think they will secure a point out of this match, with Manchester City still trying to find consistency under Guardiola. The visitors are of course the favourites for this match and have already won at the London Stadium this season, but I think they will only be leaving with a point on this occasion.