Manuel Pellegrini takes his Manchester City side to Upton Park after a hugely disappointing midweek Champions League draw against CSKA Moscow, hoping to notch up another win in the Premier League and keep the pressure on title rivals Chelsea before their Sunday game against Manchester United. It’ll be no easy task however, West Ham are playing some wonderful football right now and are sitting pretty in fourth after two consecutive wins, so concentration will be key if either team want to get anything out of this fixture.
West Ham travelled to the Etihad on the final day of last season tin a match City had to win to win the title; goals from Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany wrapped up the game, and Goal no. 101 & 102 of their campaign.
Samir Nasri and Frank Lampard are both sidelined with injury for City, while Sam Allardyce may be without Cheikhou Kouyate for this game, in addition to long-term absentees Carroll, Guy Demel and Mauro Zarate. James Tomkins may also return in time for Saturday’s early kick-off.
Manchester City are unbeaten against the Irons in their last 10 matches against them; West Ham last won this fixture in March 2009 (1-0, Upton Park).
West Ham have 13 points from their first 8 games of the campaign, a milestone that took them 13 games to achieve last time out.
Diafra Sakho is only the second West Ham player to score in five consecutive Premier League games, after Carlton Cole.
Head-to-head: WHU:35 MCI:47 D:16
West Ham United – Diafra Sakho
West Ham’s summer signing Diafra Sakho is on something of a hot streak right now, having scored in each of his last five Premier League appearances for the Irons. The Senegalese frontman, transferred from Metz for an undisclosed fee, has forged an impressive partnership with striker partner Enner Valencia, and his pace and mobility open up attacking avenues that Andy Carroll rarely provides. He’s going to get few chances against a stingy City defense that should see new signing Mangala start next to defensive stalwart Vincent Kompany, which is why he’ll need to be more accurate than the 38.6% accuracy he’s been clocking so far. City, however, have shown that they’re not entirely impermeable in defense, so if Sakho takes some of the chances that come his way, West Ham could definitely cause an upset against the champions.
Manchester City – Sergio Aguero
Of course, if there’s any striker in the league that’s doing better than the West Ham front-man, it’s Argentine powerhouse Sergio Aguero. Coming into this game having scored 5 goals over his last two games, Aguero looks set to be in a straight shoot-out with Chelsea’s Diego Costa for the Golden Boot this season. When fit, ‘El Kun’ is definitely among the top 3 best strikers in the world, but constant injury problems derailed his bid to be seen as one of the world’s best last season, and Pellegrini will no doubt have the cotton wool ready to go at the slightest sign of trouble. His impressive technique and turn of pace were there for all to see in his four-goal blitz against Tottenham last week, but Pellegrini will be hoping to kill the game off early so as to rest his star man before the Capital One Cup tie midweek and the titanic Manchester derby next Sunday.
Projected Starting XIs
West Ham United: 4-4-2: Adrian – Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell – Song, Noble, Nolan, Downing -Sakho, Valencia
Manchester City: 4-2-2-2: Hart – Zabaleta,Kompany,Mangala,Clichy – Fernandinho,Fernando –Silva,Milner – Aguero,Dzeko
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It’s not going to be as easy for City as it has been against this opposition in recent times, and they’re coming off a major Champions League disappointment in midweek, but it is likely they’ll just about edge a tense and close-fought encounter at Upton Park to pile some pressure on Chelsea.