West Ham welcome Manchester City to Upton Park this weekend for Saturday’s evening kick-off. The game will be eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans after the international break. The Hammers will be in a buoyant mood after their last Premier League outing which saw them defeat local rivals Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at White Hart Lane. The victory was West Ham’s first since the opening day of the season, and Sam Allardyce will hope it will spur them on to a good result against Manchester City. City also come into the game on the back of a good win against Everton in their last fixture. Pelligrini’s men are in fifth place after a mixed start to the season by their standards. City will need to prevent any more slip-ups if they are to catch their rivals.
West Ham will be without centre-back James Collins who picked up an injury on international duty for Wales. Sam Allardyce also indicated that Winston Reid may be out after picking up a knock and having to travel back from the United States. West Ham’s long term absentees are Andy Carroll (Ankle) and Alou Diarra (Knee) and will not be back for the foreseeable future. Manchester City have no new injury concerns. Captain Vincent Kompany may come back after a hamstring injury, but City will not want to rush him to fitness given his injury problems already this season. Jack Rodwell and Martin Demechelis both played for the Under-21 side this week on their way back to fitness. Saturday’s game may come too soon for both players.
In recent times, West Ham have not had the best record against Manchester City. The Hammers have only won one of their last ten in the Premier League against City. This win came in March 2009 where West Ham won 1-0. The Hammers did manage to draw their last home meeting with City 0-0 last season, a result they would certainly welcome this time round. Man City have won six of their last ten in the league against West Ham. City have scored at least three goals in their last three Premier League games. A Hammers striker is yet to score in the league this season.
Key to West Ham’s plans in recent games has been Ravel Morrison. The former Manchester United youngster has begun to showcase the form that saw him receive rave reviews when he was a youth player at United. Morrison has scored three goals in his last five appearances in all competitions, and his reputation has grown as a result. The Hammers have not had regular forward Andy Carroll available this season, so goals from a midfielder such as Morrison have become invaluable. Morrison is a player who gets West Ham going forward, reflected by 31% of his passes going forwards. It is this direct nature that has made Morrison important to the Hammers and was showcased in his goal against Spurs.
If City are to win this game, Sergio Aguero will play an important part. The Argentinian has scored four goals this season and contributed one assist in six appearances. Although City rotate Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko, Aguero is usually the constant in City’s attack. Aguero has a shot accuracy of 70% this season, which is above many of his fellow strikers in the league. However, he has missed four of his five clear cut chances. If Aguero is able to start converting more of his easier chances, he could repeat or better his goal tally of twenty-four in his first Premier League season. City have created eighty-six chances this season and, in form, Aguero is the man to convert them.
The international break always throws a few surprise results as some players have to travel long distances in a short time to make it back for the weekend fixture. On paper, City are definitely the stronger side and their strength should prove too much for the Hammers. However, City have had mixed results this season, losing games away to Cardiff and Aston Villa that they would have been expected to win. The Premier League has been known to spring many a surprise, but a 2-0 City win is my prediction.