Manchester City play hosts to West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium this weekend as they look to strengthen their hold at the top of the table.

Manchester City will be eyeing to take another step closer to the Premier League title when West Ham United visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon to lock horns with the table-toppers in Matchweek 26.

Following another commanding victory against Borussia Monchengladbach in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16, Manchester City are thriving at the moment. Since the draw against West Brom last December, the Cityzens are on a 19-game winning streak. And they will be aiming to extend that run and open up a 13-point lead over second-placed Manchester United who face a tough game against Chelsea this weekend.

Meanwhile, West Ham United’s dream run has been one of the fascinating sights of the 2020/21 Premier League. With a convincing triumph of 2-1 over Tottenham in last week’s encounter, David Moyes’ side made a huge statement, moving into fourth place ahead of the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool. And the Hammers’ boss will hope his squad pull off another massive win against this immaculate Manchester City at the Etihad.

In the reverse fixture, played at the London Stadium last October, West Ham were able to keep Manchester City at bay, as the fixture ended up in an intriguing 1-1 draw. Ahead of their latest contest on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be heading to this fixture with a single injury concern, as centre-back, Nathan Ake is still recovering from his muscle injury. Kevin De Bruyne is likely to place himself in the first eleven in this contest, as the Belgian international was rested for the game against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Ederson Moraes will be a certain starter between the sticks for the hosts. In front of him, Ruben Dias will form the centre-back partnership with the Englishman John Stones. Both defenders cannot afford to lose sight of the dangerous Michail Antonio.

Joao Cancelo will slot in as the right-back, with his ability join attacks or drop into central midfield to provide security against counters likely to be critical. Oleksandr Zinchenko will be venturing forward on the left flank to add numbers during attacking phases in the final third.

Spanish international Rodri should form the double pivot structure with Ilkay Gundogan in the centre of the park. The former will cut out attacks and initiate quick transitions while the latter will look to build on his recent goalscoring form by taking up advanced positions on a regular basis.

Kevin De Bruyne will play the No. 10 role to pull the strings in the final third. Bernardo Silva should secure his place as the left-winger to provide an extra dimension in that territory. Raheem Sterling will provide the threat through the right channel while Gabriel Jesus yet again leads the line upfront as the lone centre-forward for the Cityzens.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko; Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva; Jesus

formation-image (25)

West Ham United

West Ham United will be missing a few players ahead of their trip to Manchester this weekend. Andriy Yarmolenko will not be included due to his knee injury. Along with him, Arthur Masuaku (knee) and (Angelo Ogbonna) are also set to miss out while Ryan Fredericks remains a doubt.

David Moyes will set his team in 4-2-3-1 formation, and after the way they beat Tottenham last time out, the Hammers’ boss is unlikely to make any alterations to the first eleven. Lukasz Fabianski will be the last man of the defence, as the goalkeeper needs to be at his best to frustrate the opposition attackers.

Craig Dawson will build the centre-back pairing with Issa Diop. Vladimir Coufal, who has been relishing a promising debut season with West Ham United, will be the familiar face at right-back while 31-year-old Aaron Cresswell continues at left-back.

Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek will command the proceedings from the midfield, as their double pivot form could play a crucial part to stifle Pep Guardiola’s side. Jarrod Bowen should start from the right-wing, while Pablo Fornals gets the nod on the left, as he hopes to make the most of any vacant space left in behind by the City full-back.

Winter signing Jesse Lingard has been enjoying a sensational patch of form in Hammers colours,  already bagged three goals in his first four games. The 28-year-old Englishman will play the No. 10 role while Michail Antonio spearheads the West Ham United attack on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Lingard, Fornals; Antonio

formation-image (26)

Betting Odds

Favourable Tips

  1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.57

Hot Ones

  1. Jesse Lingard to score anytime @ 8.00

Key Stats

  • Since the 2-5 defeat to Leicester City in September, Manchester City have conceded just three goals in their last 15 home matches across all competitions (W13 D2).
  • The last time West Ham United snatched a win against Manchester City in the Premier League was way back on September 19, 2015.
  • Manchester City have gathered 29 points out of their 12 home fixtures (W9 D2 L1). On the other hand, West Ham United have displayed impressive resilience on the road, collecting 21 points out of a possible 36.
  • Only Manchester City (33) have won more Premier League points than West Ham United (22) since the start of 2021.
  • Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva has scored 3 goals and served 5 assists in his last 10 appearances for Manchester City.

Player to Watch

Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City's main man (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Manchester City’s main man (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

One of the most influential figures in Pep Guardiola’s side, the Belgian international had suffered a temporary setback due to injury. But having fully recovered now, Kevin De Bruyne will be desperate to make up for the time he spent out on the sidelines starting with this crucial encounter against West Ham United.

With 3 goals and 15 assists in all competitions, the Manchester City No. 17 has yet again proven his quality and the ability to make a difference. And if West Ham United need to stop the Cityzens’ juggernaut, David Moyes’ side will need to keep a close eye on the Cityzens’ midfielder and stop him from dictating the proceedings.

Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United

In spite of an impressive run in the league campaign, David Moyes will be well aware of the magnitude of this clash. The East London side need to display their positive intent from the very first whistle and will need to capitalise on any sort of mistake from the league leaders if they are to spoil the Cityzens’ party.

As for Manchester City, they are most likely to dominate the proceedings but will need to be wary of the threat posed by the Hammers on the counter and in set-piece situations. However, with their firepower on the pitch, and the way they’ve been bamboozling the opponents of late, the Cityzens should end up as the victorious team in this tie.

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