Manchester City face a tough visit to Upton Park that could have a significant bearing on their title ambitions this season. But the Citizens can boast of a first choice attack that could well be one of the best in Europe right now.

The Citizens have a top class attacking quartet in the form of David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, who have the capability of running away with the game. Slaven Bilic has however tamed the City attack when they were on song at the beginning of the season, and will be confident that his team can repeat that.

During their previous encounter, the Hammers managed to get a two goal lead and then put up an awe inspiring display of clinical and resilient defending, which proved to be too much for City, as they eventually went home with a 2-1 loss. This time around the Citizens will look to stamp their authority on West Ham’s home ground.

The Managers

Manuel Pellegrini might be widely touted to be leaving Manchester City at the end of this season, but he has assembled one of the finest teams in England during his tenure. The Chilean has brought a little bit of South American flair to the side, using skillful midfielders in tandem with pacy wingers to put the opposition under pressure and feed the Argentine goal machine that is Sergio Aguero.

Pellegrini will stress on an all out attack style of play in this game, but will have his depleted defence at the back of his mind. He could well instruct the fullbacks to focus more on defensive duties, as well as have Fernandinho tracking back often to cover up the openings in midfield left by Yaya Toure, who is not much of a defensive minded player.

Manchester City Press Conference

Former West Ham player turned manager Slaven Bilic has turned out to fit the mould of a Premier League manager quite well, forging a good defensive side capable of scoring goals on the counter. He had big shoes to fill when he took over from Big Sam Allardyce, after a successful season last time around, but has done admirably so far, with the Hammers sitting in 6th place, just 9 points adrift of the league leaders.

His instructions to the players in this game will probably be the same that works so well for them against top opposition, dig in your boots to defend, let the opponent keep the ball and be ready to retaliate with quick, dangerous counterattacks.

Key Clashes

Sergio Aguero v/s Winston Reid

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The Argentine has faltered a bit this season due to injury, but last season’s golden boot winner will be looking to get back at his best in this game against West Ham. His timely runs, quick thinking and crisp finishing will prove lethal if he is given any space in and around the opposition penalty area, hence the Hammers need to have someone monitoring him throughout the game.

Winston Reid is one of the host’s best center backs, and proved to be a lynchpin for the side the last time these two teams faced off. He will be well aware of the Aguero threat and will be deployed to keep things tight when it comes to Aguero. He must make key interceptions when the ball is being fed to the striker, as well as be ready to put his body on the line and block shots that the Manchester City man might try to fire in.

Kevin de Bruyne v/s Victor Moses

Manchester City v Sunderland

Kevin de Bruyne prefers a more central role in the proceedings. But given that the number 10 at the club is currently the wily magician David Silva, the Belgian sees himself starting off on the right wing which really doesn’t diminish much of his attacking capabilities. His opposition on that side of the pitch will be Nigerian winger Victor Moses.

With both players having pace, guile and the ability to set up attacks, they will be involved in a number of key battles for the ball on their flank of the field. The winner of these clashes could well set up an attack for his team that leads to a goal. In that respect, they will be well aware of each other’s qualities and look to not give away possession to the other.

Dimitri Payet v/s Demichelis/Otamendi

Manchester City vs West Ham United

Manchester City are missing their two first choice defenders in Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala, and the Argentine duo of Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis form the makeshift backline of the team. Their main challenge in this match will be to combat the creative threats of Dimitri Payet, who was the chief protagonist for West Ham before suffering an injury. He received an uproarious welcome when he returned in West Ham colors to Upton Park at the beginning of the year.

With 5 goals and 4 assists in 15 appearance for the Hammers, he will definitely be one of the most dangerous attacking threats for the visitors to deal with. Payet will be primed and ready to expose any defensive lapses by the visiting Citizens.

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