Both of these sides had excellent first halves of the season, but have fallen away recently leaving them both with big summers ahead. Neither Manuel Pellegrini or Sam Allardyce are secure in their positions going into next season with rumours circulating about their long term futures. They are both under very different expectations, but neither have done enough this season to suggest they can achieve what their clubs want going forward. Pellegrini has had a very poor second season with Manchester City as they look set to go trophyless and could even miss out on Champions League football. Meanwhile, Allardyce has done well to consolidate West Ham in the top flight, but the owners may seek a sexier manager as they attempt to break into the top seven.
It’s clear to the majority of football observers that Manchester City require a squad overhaul as their current squad has failed to deliver consistency and they are beginning to age. They need more youth in their squad and better characters to ensure that the inconsistency doesn’t become ingrained into the club’s DNA. Even captain Vincent Kompany is no longer dependable due to a mixture of bad form and injuries. It’s up for debate whether Manuel Pellegrini is the correct man to oversee the summer overhaul as his managerial record doesn’t make him the obvious man to shape City into one of the best sides in Europe. This week’s news that Jurgen Klopp will be available in the summer will only increase the pressure on the Chilean as Klopp is one of the hottest properties in management and he will appeal to the City hierarchy.
West Ham have had a good season considering they have steered well clear of relegation and have developed considerably since last season, due to the impressive work they managed to do in the summer. However, the second half of the season hasn’t been great as they haven’t pushed on and challenged the top seven as they would have hoped at the turn of the year. Allardyce hasn’t signed a new contract yet and West Ham may opt to bring a new manager in to take the club onto the next level. Although the West Ham manager has done well this season, there are still doubters around Upton Park that he is the correct man for the future. Next season, West Ham will want to qualify for European football to bring in the new era in the Olympic Stadium, and must decide whether a managerial change is required to take them there.
In the first meeting of the two sides at Upton Park, West Ham triumphed playing some wonderful football. They won 2-1 with Morgan Amalfitano and Diafra Sakho scoring the goals. David Silva scored a late consolation, but West Ham were the better side and deserved the three points. Last season’s corresponding fixture was played under very different circumstances as Manchester City lifted the Premier League trophy after securing a 2-0 victory over the Hammers. Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany scored for the home side as the clinched their second Premier League crown.
- Manchester City have lost four of their last six league games. Only one other side in the top 12 have lost as many times as the champions in that time and that is their opponents on Sunday, West Ham.
- West Ham have only scored four times in their last six matches. The side that looked so dangerous in front of goal at the beginning of the season has gone and they now look less of a threat in the final third.
Manchester City need to bounce back this weekend and ease fears of not finishing in the top four, which have surfaced in recent weeks after a few really poor results. Manuel Pellegrini knows that he must deliver a top four finish to stand any chance of keeping his position at the club. At the beginning of the 2015, it looked like City were building momentum and had a chance of retaining their Premier League crown, but now they are in freefall and it would take a brave person to put money on them finishing in the top four at the moment. This weekend, they need David Silva to be in great form as he has been their most dangerous player this season. He has suffered from injuries, but his style of play suits the Premier League as he drifts into the spaces between the lines with some superb movement and spatial awareness. The Spaniard is one of the best at influencing games in the final third as he can play effective through balls to the onrunning attackers, while he is also a very good finisher when the chances come his way. This season, he has scored 11 goals and got 4 assists which is a good return, especially in front of goal. This is his best season in terms of goals in the Premier League, but the midfielder will be disappointed that he hasn’t got more assists to his name.
Alex Song has been an excellent signing for West Ham, and they will be hoping to keep hold of him as they attempt to build a side that can take the club to the next level. However there won’t be a shortage of interest across Europe in the Cameroon international as he has proven this season that he is still a brilliant defensive midfielder, and a lot of sides will be interested in a player like Song. He has been consistent for the Hammers sitting in front of the back four as he breaks down play and lays the foundation for West Ham to attack themselves. He is an excellent reader of the game, as is evident through the interceptions and tackles he makes to prevent the opposition going forward. The on loan Barcelona player is also very good in the air, which is useful when defending set pieces. He has also shown a creative spark at times this season with two assists, which is a good return for a defensive midfielder. He will be key this weekend as he will have to track the movement of the City defenders and prevent the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva from getting too much time on the ball in the final third.
Dedryck Boyata will be available again for Manchester City. However they have a few injuries to contend with as Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy, Stevan Jovetic, Wilfried Bony and James Milner are all set to miss this weekend’s match against West Ham.
Diafra Sakho will be missing for West Ham, but Enner Valencia could play after picking up a knock against Stoke City. Andy Carroll remains on the treatment table and won’t feature again this campaign. James Tomkins is also unlikely to feature again this campaign.
I think it will be a nervy game and there won’t be many goals, but I expect Manchester City to win this weekend. They have an opportunity to increase their lead over Liverpool who are in FA Cup action and they can’t let their poor form continue. They will be vulnerable defensively and I expect West Ham to cause them a few problems going forwards, but with the quality that they have in the final third, they should be able to take three points. It won’t be pretty to watch though.
Manchester City 1-0 West Ham United