West Ham United and Manchester City will square off in the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, with both teams hoping to clinch three points.
Manchester City kick off another Premier League title defence with a tricky trip to West Ham United on Sunday, as the reigning English champions take on David Moyes’s side in their 2022/23 Premier League opener at the London Stadium.
Manchester City have not rested upon their laurels since edging Liverpool in a neck-to-neck Premier League title race by a two-point margin last season, showing intent in the summer transfer window. While Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko have departed, a world-class striker has arrived in the form of Erling Haaland, alongside another top young attacking talent in Julian Alvarez.
Manchester City have also reinforced their star-studded midfield roster with the addition of Kalvin Phillips, as they look to defend their Premier League crown. However, the champions experienced a difficult start to the new campaign, going down 3-1 to Liverpool in the FA Community Shield.
While West Ham United are no light work by any means, Manchester City will want to put things right with an emphatic victory at the London Stadium. The hosts, meanwhile, will feel they have every chance of gatecrashing the top four after another fruitful season that saw them reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League and finish seventh in the Premier League.
However, West Ham will have to play out of their skins to get a result here. The Hammers look a much stronger outfit than they were last season and have acted smartly in the market to boost their squad depth. After punching above their weight in past seasons, they have brought in real quality in Gianluca Scamacca, Nayef Aguerd, and Flynn Downes, Alphonse Areola, and Maxwel Cornet.
Welcome to West Ham United, Maxwel Cornet! 👋 pic.twitter.com/dLRWhGLcxg
— West Ham United (@WestHam) August 5, 2022
Having said that, West Ham were below-par in pre-season and ended the 2021/22 Premier League campaign in poor form. While Moyes’s side failed to register a single victory against Manchester City in regular time, they did manage to knock Pep Guardiola’s men out of the EFL Cup on penalties and also earned a very credible draw in the league.
So it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this fixture. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides before they lock horns this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
West Ham United
David Moyes has plenty of pressing fitness issues to contend with ahead of Manchester City’s visit to the London Stadium on Sunday. The West Ham United manager has admitted he has “quite a lot of concerns” on the injury front heading into the game.
Moyes did not point out which players he is concerned about, but he will be without new centre-back signing Nayef Aguerd, who is out for ten weeks after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury sustained during pre-season. Angelo Ogbonna is continuing his rehab after missing most of last season with an ACL injury but is not yet fit enough to return, while summer singings Gianluca Scamacca and Maxwel Cornet are not yet ready to feature.
"We've got him in and I like what I see, but we’re trying to get him in the best condition we can and get him ready to play."
— West Ham United (@WestHam) August 6, 2022
Moyes is set to continue with the 4-2-3-1 formation he used predominantly last season. Lukasz Fabianski will continue in goal for West Ham, Alphonse Areola his deputy. The rest of the starting eleven pretty much picks itself.
Craig Dawson and Kurt Zouma will form the central defensive partnership and will provide an imposing presence during set-piece situations at both ends of the pitch. Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell will be the two full-backs, with the latter on set-piece duty.
In midfield, Tomas Soucek’s partnership with Declan Rice in the double pivot should offer West Ham industry and height in the middle of the park that could be essential when facing a team like Manchester City, who have multiple midfield runners.
Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals, and Jarrod Bowen will feature just ahead of the midfield duo as part of the West Ham attack, with the Englishman their top contributor in the Premier League last term. The West Ham attack could be spearheaded by Michail Antonio, who endured a slump in form at the back end of last season.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Dawson, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio
Aymeric Laporte is the most notable absentee for Manchester City after undergoing surgery on his knee injury earlier this summer. The Spanish international is not expected to return until September at the earliest. Leaving that aside, Pep Guardiola has a full-strength squad to pick his starting eleven from.
New signings Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez and Kalvin Phillips can all make their Premier League debuts for Manchester City here, with Alvarez and Phillips expected to come off the bench.
Manchester City look set to turn out in Guardiola’s customary 4-3-3 formation. When fit, Ederson Moraes is a sure starter in goal, and utility man Nathan Ake looks set to partner Ruben Dias at the heart of the Manchester City defence, with John Stones lacking match fitness.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 6, 2022
Joao Cancelo played the highest number of minutes of any Manchester City player across all competitions last season. The Portuguese international will be bidding to take that form into this season, slotting in at left-back, whereas Kyle Walker will fill in on the other flank as the right-back.
Rodri should start in the holding midfield position and will be in charge of keeping things ticking along in the middle of the park. Bernardo Silva will slot into the right central midfield role, whereas Kevin De Bruyne is expected to start in the attacking midfield position.
In the final third, Guardiola will have to decide whether to pick Phil Foden or Jack Grealish from the start. The former Aston Villa man started against Liverpool last time out but was largely underwhelming, while Foden provided the spark off the bench.
Riyad Mahrez enjoyed the most productive season of his career in 2021/22, chipping in with 24 goals and nine assists in all competitions, and was rightly handed a new contract in the off-season. The Algerian winger is likely to feature in the final third, with star signing Haaland expected to start up front after firing a blank against Liverpool in the Community Shield.
Probable lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez, Haaland, Foden
- West Ham United endured a mini-slump towards the end of last season, winning just one of their final eight games, losing five.
- Manchester City are undefeated in their last 13 Premier League games against West Ham United (W10 D3).
- Manchester United have previously faced West Ham in their Premier League opener on three occasions, winning all three times without allowing a single goal, while scoring 11 in the process.
- Pep Guardiola’s side fell to a 1-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in their opening game last season. In fact, they have lost their league opener in three of the last six seasons (W3).
- Manchester City’s new hitman, Erling Haaland, has netted ten goals in his last ten matches for club and country, while Jack Grealish boasts an impressive record against the Hammers, registering three goals and two assists in his last six competitive outings against them.
Player to Watch
Having struggled to make an impression in the Community Shield against Liverpool and looking a little sluggish, Erling Haaland will be eager to make a statement here. His tremendous talent is well known in Europe following his exploits with Borussia Dortmund, where he scored 62 goals in 67 games whilst producing 15 assists.
There is a lot of excitement amongst Manchester City supporters about this signing, with many anticipating that he will make them an even more formidable outfit in the Premier League. However, with expectations come reservations, and in this case, the question is whether the striking phenom will fit into Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing style of play.
Possession-based football certainly does not suit Haaland’s explosive and predatory attributes. But it is safe to say that he will bring his ability to convert chances due to his directness and potent shooting. With supreme creators such as Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish behind him, he will not be short of chances and can open his Premier League account at the first attempt this weekend.
West Ham United 2-2 Manchester City
West Ham United scored in all of their home league games in the 2021/22 season, while the visitors have scored at least twice in their last nine Premier League matches. So, an electric, high-scoring encounter could be on the cards in what is set to be an exciting clash between two different styles.
On paper, Manchester City are the better team and hold the keys to the game. They are expected to control the match, retain possession for the majority of the time, and be the more dangerous of the two, with Erling Haaland likely to get plenty of scoring chances. But West Ham’s counter-attacking and transitional styles of play are a bad match-up for Manchester City.
The hosts can make life difficult for the champions, with David Moyes’s side possessing strengths in their usual blind spots: counter-attacks, aerial battles, and set pieces. Manchester City’s tradition of dropping points in the early stages of the season under Guardiola can not be undermined, and The Hard Tackle predicts the Hammers to steal a point off the heavily favoured Citizens in front of their home supporters.