Upton Park, London
January 21, 2013; 19:45 BST
Manchester City travel to Upton Park to face West Ham United in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final fixture. On the outset the second leg seems like a formality, and in truth it is. Manuel Pellegrini’s men took a mammoth six-goal lead in the first leg as Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko put the Hammers to the sword. But Sam Allardyce and his men will be looking to restore some pride in the second leg with a better defensive performance at home.
But West Ham will face the task of facing perhaps the most in form side in England at the moment. Manchester City are undefeated in their last 17 matches in all competitions and are living up to the expectation of the being the favourite for the Premier League this season. City will face Watford in the FA Cup following this fixture, before Tottenham and Chelsea in their next two league matches. So this the start of a crucial period for Manchester City and their ambition of winning everything in their site this season.
Considering West Ham’s current run of form, they could well done without this fixture at this moment. The team is already struggling with confidence and are in the relegation zone currently in the league. Sam Allardyce is under tremendous pressure and the Hammers have won only one of their last eight matches in all competitions. Their shaky defence now face the prospect of facing Manchester City and Chelsea in their next two matches.
West Ham United team news
West Ham’s injury woes have been reduced significantly in the past few weeks, although the still face some fitness concerns. Winston Reid remains out of contention with an injury, while there are questions marks about the fitness of Joey O’Brien and Guy Demel. Ricardo Vaz Te will undergo a later fitness test ahead of this game, but is unlikely to be feature in the match. George McCartney is expected to recover from his neck injury in time for this game though.
Sam Allardyce is expected to make five changes to the side he fielded against Newcastle United. The West Ham manager would have been tempted to field a weaker side in this game, but another thrashing in the second leg will only pile on more pressure on him, hence he is likely to field a strong line-up.
West Ham have struggled to score goals upfront and the return of Andy Carroll is a big boost for them, but the former Liverpool striker is unlikely to be start and will feature from the bench, like he did against Newcastle United in their last game. Roger Johnson will be replaced by James Tomkins, who has returned from his suspension, in the center of the defence and there is a slight chance of George McCartney replacing Matthew Taylor at the right back role as well.
Ravel Morrison will start alongside Mark Noble in the pivot ahead of the defence, which means Jack Collison will drop back to the bench. Kevin Nolan will also return to the side ahead of Mohamed Diame after serving his suspension, while Joe Cole replaces Jarvis on the left.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Adrian (GK); Rat, Tomkins, Collins, Taylor; Noble, Morrison; Cole, Nolan, Downing; Cole
Manchester City team news
Like Sam Allardyce, Manuel Pellegrini is also faced with the prospect of having a lot of players back from injuries. Samir Nasri is the only long term injury concern at the moment, while Jack Rodwell is likely to return to action next week. Stevan Jovetic, who has faced a lot of fitness concerns since his arrival in the summer is close to returning to first team action as well and could even feature on the bench in this game.
Pellegrini can afford to rest a lot of his players for this game as the result of this tie is already beyond doubts. He is expected to make as many as eight changes to the side that started in the 4-2 win against Cardiff this weekend. Costel Pantilimon will return in goal with Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott pairing up in the center of the defence. Micah Richards will start as the right back, with Gael Clichy replacing Aleksandar Kolarov at the left back.
Garcia will retain his place in the center of the midfield, but Yaya Toure, who has faced a lot of niggling injuries recently, will be rested for this game as Fernandinho returns to the side. James Milner will start on the left wing in place of David Silav, while Sergio Aguero will start the first game since his return from injury as Alvaro Negredo is rested.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-2): Pantilimon (GK); Richards, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy; Milner, Garcia, Fernandinho, Navas; Aguero, Dzeko
Players to watch-out for: Joe Cole (West Ham); Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Prediction: West Ham 1-4 Manchester City
Blast from the past