Manchester City are firmly in control of the Premier League title race, having beaten Arsenal 4-1 at the Etihad and Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage to take a point lead at the top of the table with a game in hand. After such brilliant work to close the gap on Arsenal, Pep Guardiola will expect his players to maintain their run of form when West Ham comes to the Etihad Stadium during mid-week.
West Ham have already done a huge favour for City by taking two points away from Arsenal in April. But if David Moyes’ led side manages to deliver the same performance against City, they may end up settling the balance by stunning another title chaser. Arsenal play Chelsea before this match and could go above City before the kick-off in Manchester.
More importantly, the Hammers will look to bounce back from a disappointing 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace and ensure they remain away from the messy relegation fight at the tail end of the table.
Head to Head
There’s only one winner on the head-to-head table and it’s the Cityzens. West Ham are winless in their last 14 league matches against the Sky Blues, who have also won their last six meetings at their own perch.
The clash back in August, saw City win 2-0, which extended Guardiola’s winning record against David Moyes to 13. Former Burnley and current Everton boss Sean Dyche is the only manager that the Spaniard has faced more times in all competitions without ever losing than he has against Moyes.
Kevin De Bruyne missed the trip to London to face Fulham, with the City boss revealing his playmaker wasn’t feeling good before the game. He might be ready for this game, but it’s best to let him rest for another outing and save him for the Real Madrid clash in the Champions League.
Nathan Ake could be another big miss. He’s been out since the Bayern Munich stalemate in the second leg of the Champions League due to a hamstring injury. The Dutchman is yet to resume team training.
Manuel Akanji will likely take Ake’s place once again at left-back, and Julian Alvarez, the match-winner at Fulham, could retain his place instead of De Bruyne’s hurried return.
Angelo Ogbonna replaced Kurt Zouma before halftime at Selhurst Park after the Frenchman twisted his ankle. Ogbonna is likely to replace him from the get-go for this game.
Gianluca Scamacca (knee) is not going to feature this season, leaving Michail Antonio and Danny Ings to fight it out for the opportunity to lead the attacking line.
Manchester City: 4-2-3-1
Ederson (GK), Stones, Dias, Akanji, Rodri, Gundogan, Mahrez, Alvarez, Grealish, Haaland
West Ham: 4-2-3-1
Fabianski (GK), Coufal, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice, Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma, Antonio
Players to Watch
The Norwegian’s first goal for City in a competitive game came against West Ham from the spot. He scored another in the second half with a cool finish to also bag his first brace in England.
Heading into the reverse fixture, Haaland has scored 50 goals in all competitions, a figure not seen in English football in 92 years. If things click for the striker – which is the case more often than not – then the Hammers’ defence will be at his mercy.
While Moyes doesn’t have any striker as prolific as Haaland, in Rice, he possesses the player with ability to go toe to toe with the Premier League’s best midfielders. And in case the likes of Antonio and Benraham fail to do much in the final third, the Englishman himself is capable of making the difference at the other end. He has scored two goals in his last three games, including a stunner in the Europa Conference League.
Where will the Game be Decided?
If West Ham plan to just sit back and absorb City’s attacking power, then they’d be playing a very risky game. Even if they keep Haaland in check, City can find a goal through Alvarez.
As such, a lot will depend on how brave Moyes’s men are. If they can use Rice and Tomáš Souček effectively in a mid-block to dispossess City midfielders, they will get a chance or two to get a goal against a City defence that has managed just two clean sheets in their last 12 league games.
City hasn’t lost at home since November and that is certainly not going to change in the next game. Manchester City 3-1 West Ham.
The kickoff is at 19:00 GMT Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium.