West Ham United vs Manchester City - Match preview
Champions Manchester City are yet to lose a league game this season and will be looking to maintain their run on their visit to Upton Park tonight. West Ham, on the other hand, have fared very well thus far for a newly promoted club, and sit at a respectable 8th position in the league table. City, quite like their cross town rivals, Manchester United, seem prone to conceding an early goal, but have produced never-say-die performances to mount comeback victories that one would have deemed out of their grasp a couple of years ago.
However, West Ham are a club with a glorious past and vociferous fans and will make life as difficult for Roberto Mancini’s side as possible. With Carlos Tevez returning to a club he left as a hero, one can expect a rare warm reception for the grumpy Argentine. On the pitch, however, Tevez or no Tevez, West Ham will certainly run the Sky Blues close, and should make for an interesting fixture.
Manchester City: D W W L W
City have won all four of their previous league games, albeit by close margins. In particular, the game against Swansea last weekend was one which could have gone either way, with the run of the green finally going the way of City. They have also, almost certainly, been knocked out of the Champions League halfway through the group stage, and have produced only glimpses of the majestic form they displayed last year. This has been majorly down to the failure of Silva, and Aguero to really get going, in addition to niggling injuries. Of particular concern this weekend will be the right back position, at which both Maicon and Micah Richards are ruled out for the foreseeable future. Their impressive back-up, Pablo Zabaleta is also recuperating from a hamstring strain, and might not start the game. While West Ham do not have considerable width to their play, it is a leak that Mancini will be hoping to plug as soon as possible.
West Ham United: L W L W L
West Ham this season have been the epitome of inconsistency, as their form rightly suggests. With on-loan striker Andy Carroll failing to find the net thus far this season, and Carlton Cole failing to recreate the form of last season, captain Kevin Nolan has had to take up the scoring mantle. However, there is only so much that one man can do, and that too against the likes of Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart, one worries about where West Ham will find goals from. Defensively, as well, West Ham have had their fair share of problems, and with Guy Demel likely to miss this match through injury, the anxious jitters at the back will only be heightened. All being said, an optimist would say that West Ham’s form dictates that this should be a victory for them, and with a little willingness from Carroll and co., it might well become a reality.
Manchester City: Maicon, Javi Garcia, David Silva, Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell, Pablo Zabaleta.
West Ham United: Alou Diarra, Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison, Matthew Taylor, Guy Demel.
Kevin Nolan vs Joe Hart
West Ham haven’t lost a single game in which Kevin Nolan has scored this season, winning 3 and drawing 1. In simple words, when the engine that is Kevin Nolan ticks, so does West Ham United. Joe Hart on the other hand, has nonchalantly denied some of the best strikers in the world so far this season. If not for his performances, City would not even have the slight ray of hope of progression in the Champions League that they currently have. However, with a defence that has looked suspect at times, Kevin Nolan might well get a few opportunities to beat one of the world’s best goal keepers.
Yaya Toure vs Mohamed Diame
One would not be unwise to predict that this fixture may be one that is decided upon who wins the midfield battle. Yaya Toure has been instrumental in keeping City abreast with the likes of United and Chelsea with some superb individual performances thus far in the season. He seems to revel in the freedom that is afforded to him when he can drive forward and propel the attack. Against a team like West Ham, who are struggling for form, he might well find more opportunities to do that than usual. It will be up to one man to stop the Ivorian; Senegalese Mohamed Diame.
Sergio Aguero vs James Collins & Winston Reid
A game of few goals, perhaps, considering West Ham’s inconsistent attack, and City’s recent performances. As already mentioned, a battle which will probably be fought majorly in the realm of the midfield, with an upper hand to whomsoever manages to assert dominance there. That being said, West Ham’s defence, and ‘keeper are prone to collapse, and an early goal or two for City might well open the floodgates. A scenario which, at Upton Park, is quite unlikely.