West Ham are the next side up to face a Manchester City team that’s found its stride, and that’s bad news for former City boss Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean is now in the hot seat at the London Stadium, and is tasked this weekend with finding a way of stopping a City side that has been hammering in the goals recently. While the international break will have been a frustrating pause in activity for City boss Pep Guardiola, it’s hard to see his side taking too long to find their feet here.
The Hammers recovered from poor early-season form to post some creditable results, holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw and thrashing Manchester United, but recent weeks have seen them fall back into indifferent form. They’ve picked up one win in their last four Premier League outings and could only draw 1-1 at Huddersfield before last weekend’s break, and this is not an ideal fixture if they’re looking to pull themselves back to something resembling form.
West Ham vs Manchester City Prediction: West Ham 0-4 Manchester City
The Premier League is settling into its own set of mini-leagues, with the relegation battle already beginning to take shape and the race for the title already trimmed to a few clubs. The good news for West Ham is that they’re likely somewhere in the middle, but the bad news is that that still makes them woefully ill-equipped to face Manchester City. Twelve league spots separate the sides, and there’s an excellent chance that the visitors will give a working demonstration of just how wide a gap that is – the hosts are outmatched in all areas of the pitch here.
Our recommended tip: Manchester City HT/FT
With each passing week, the reigning champions more and more resemble Guardiola’s best sides from the Barcelona days, with movement and understanding of a quality beyond anything else on offer in the Premier League. This has seen them lead from the front in most of their recent games, scoring within the first fifteen minutes in their last four. There’s a decent chance City will be out of sight by half-time here, and it’s certainly hard to see West Ham holding them for the full ninety. With Betway offering 8/11 for the visitors to lead at the end of both halves, they’re certainly worth backing.
Not many teams have a good recent record against Manchester City, and West Ham certainly don’t buck that trend. We can say in their favour that they managed to lead at half-time their visit to the Etihad last season, but Guardiola’s side found two second-half goals – one coming from David Silva seven minutes from time – to secure the points.
Here at the London Stadium, it was worse. After falling behind to Leroy Sane’s 13th-minute strike and a Zabaleta own goal, the capital club never got back into it. A Cresswell finish just before the half momentarily had them trailing by just a goal, but City stretched away again, Gabriel and Fernandinho scoring to widen the margin, and allowing their side to pretty much phone in the last twenty minutes.
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Players to watch: Felipe Anderson & Fernandinho
Anderson arrived from Lazio in the summer for a fee of approximately £40million, and Hammers fans were unconvinced by his early-season displays. Once he got used to the fact that Marko Arnautovic is a slightly less reliable partner than Ciro Immobile, though, the Brazilian began to show his quality. The versatile Anderson has shown signs of an understanding with the Austrian – at least, as much as anyone can understand the volatile Arnautovic – and if West Ham can get anything here, it’ll likely go through him.
For Manchester City, it’s always hard to predict who will produce the moment of brilliance that gives them their breakthrough. The side is filled with attacking talent, and any one of a number of players can crack the opposition. That is thanks to Fernandinho as much as anyone else – sitting at the base of midfield, he does all the scrappy stuff and brings his silkier teammates into the play. One day, they’ll need to find a replacement for him but for now, his ever-present position in the side is testament to his importance.