A confident Manchester City side will host an in-form West Ham United outfit at the Etihad, with both managers targeting a solid win.

Manchester City continued their fluid form after dispatching Paris Saint-Germain in the midweek Champions League game and confirming their status as group toppers. Pep Guardiola’s men were made to work hard for the winner as the Parisians stood their ground amid intense pressure from the home side.

Raheem Sterling cancelled out Kylian Mbappe’s surprise second-half opener, and then substitute Gabriel Jesus grabbed the winner after some terrific work on the ball from Bernardo Silva. Guardiola will now lend his focus onto matters in the Premier League as a compelling contest with West Ham United awaits at the Etihad.

After Liverpool briefly flirted with the second spot last weekend, Manchester City breezed past Everton with ease and reclaimed their position on the table. However, with the Reds winning against Southampton on Saturday, Guardiola & co. have slipped down to third place and will be gunning for a win.

In West Ham, they face formidable opponents who have shown they can compete with the very best in the league after ending Liverpool’s unbeaten start before the international break. The Hammers have shown their quality since the start of the season and handled the pressure that multiple competitions bring.

David Moyes has been excellent in helping maintain the performance levels of his squad, despite the rigours of Europa League and cup ties this season. They were sensational until the international break as they finished the period with a scintillating victory over Liverpool, which momentarily took them beyond the Reds on the table. However, last weekend’s morale-sapping defeat away at Wolves ensured they dropped down to fourth.

Moyes & co. will be under pressure from Arsenal, who are level on points after their win over Newcastle United. The Hammers remain above the Gunners due to their superior goal difference, although they will have to stitch together results to keep their place among the top-four.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

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Guardiola is always mixing and changing his lineup, making his team selection unpredictable. However, against PSG, he did have to choose a side in the absence of some key stars such as Phil Foden and Jack Grealish. The status of both players remains uncertain as things stand, as the English duo could miss out once more.

Ferran Torres is a certain absentee, while Kevin De Bruyne is also set to miss out as he continues to recover from coronavirus, allowing Ilkay Gundogan to keep his place in the side.

Guardiola might prefer to start Aymeric Laporte instead of John Stones in this game. The manager has constantly been rotating his central defenders to keep them fit for the rest of the season. Ruben Dias would partner the Spaniard at the back.

Raheem Sterling could be rewarded for his good performance against PSG with a start on the left side of the attack. The same goes for Gabriel Jesus, who could start on the right after scoring the winner in midweek. Cole Palmer could start in back-to-back games, potentially as a false-nine. Alternatively, Jesus could play centrally with Riyad Mahrez, an option from the right.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

West Ham United

Apart from the big injury to Angelo Ogbonna, Moyes does not have any problems with his squad. Moreover, the manager rested his regulars Michail Antonio and Lukasz Fabianski in midweek with an eye on the Manchester City clash. Moyes’ midweek rotation would have helped some of the first team starters time to recuperate and energise themselves ahead of a crucial tie with Guardiola’s men.

Ben Johnson was among those rested, and the fact that Vladimir Coufal played the whole Europa League game points towards the youngster starting against Man City. Craig Dawson should continue in Ogbonna’s absence and partner Kurt Zouma in central defence. Aaron Cresswell will keep his place at left-back.

Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice should be unmoved from their central midfield positions, while the front four is likely to be familiar. Said Benrahma could continue influencing the proceedings from a central attacking position, with the impressive Jarrod Bowen attacks from the right. Pablo Fornals will come in on the left flank, with Michail Antonio leading the line.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Johnson, Zouma, Dawson, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Benrahma, Fornals; Antonio

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven home games in the Premier League.
  • Manchester City have scored at least two goals in 12 of their last 14 home matches against West Ham United in all competitions.
  • Manchester City have scored at least two goals in five of their last sis games in the Premier League.
  • West Ham have not won away at Manchester City in the last six games in all competitions.
  • West Ham United have not beaten the reigning champions away from home since 2001.

Player to Watch

Raheem Sterling

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After having somewhat him frozen out of the plans, Guardiola has been forced to include Sterling in recent games owing to injuries to key players in similar positions. The England international has taken his chance properly and produced two goals in as many starts in a matter of days.

He should continue to feature against the Hammers, and another goalscoring performance might force Guardiola to rethink Sterling’s role this season. A string of favourable displays could also put the recent transfer talk regarding a move away to rest while giving him a shot at becoming Manchester City’s main man again.

Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United

Manchester City are expected to hold the keys to the game, keep possession of the ball for most parts and be the more threatening side among the two. However, the Hammers can counter with speed and have good finishers to hurt Guardiola’s men.

City have superior quality across the pitch though and have been growing from strength to strength. With Liverpool winning against Southampton, Guardiola will be under tremendous pressure to regain the second spot. Expect the home side to take all three points against the Hammers, who will surely put in a strong fight.

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