Manchester City will look to continue their impeccable recent record against a struggling West Ham United on Sunday. The Blues welcome David Moyes' side to the Etihad Stadium in what will be the final fixture before the inaugural Premier League Winter break.
Raheem Sterling is in a race to be fit for the first leg of the Champions League tie against Real Madrid later this month, after picking up a hamstring injury against Spurs last weekend. Pep Guardiola said: “we will see. It takes weeks, but I don’t know right now” when asked about putting a timeframe on the winger’s injury, but he most certainly will be unavailable for this weekends game.
Guardiola also confirmed that Leroy Sané has returned to training with the rest of the squad, along with defenders John Stones and Benjamin Mendy. Aymeric Laporte hasn’t played since his comeback appearance against Sheffield United last month due to fatigue but could be in contention to make just his 6th appearance this season.
Oleksandr Zinchenko is also suspended for Sunday’s game after being sent off in the 2-0 defeat to Spurs.
West Ham’s deadline day signing Jarrod Bowen could make his first appearance for the club, but Adriya Yarmolenko and Jack Wilshere will be unavailable for the trip up north. Felipe Anderson has returned to training for the Hammers, but isn’t expected to be fit enough to play.
Head To Head:
Manchester City have won the last seven Premier League meetings against West Ham by an aggregate score of 23-3; and since 2010 have only lost twice in 21 fixtures in all competitions. There have been 110 meetings overall, with City having won 57, drawn 17 and lost 37 since the sides first met back in 1924. Sergio Agüero has 10 goals in 16 appearances, and the Blues last played West Ham on the opening day of the season where they thrashed what was then Manual Pellegrini’s side 5-0.
In the league, City remain second by two points, but are a mammoth 22 points behind a Liverpool side that are six victories away from sealing the title. The Blues are unbeaten in four of their last five league games, but slumped to a 6th league defeat of the season when they played Spurs last Saturday.
City failed to score in consecutive matches for just the second time since Guardiola took over in 2016; despite having a combined total of 32 shots in their past two games. Spurs also joined Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Leicester as teams who have recently managed to score with their first shot on goal against a City side with just eight clean sheets in the league this season.
West Ham sit in 18th and find themselves in a relegation battle despite the recent re-employment of David Moyes. The Hammers are winless in their last five league matches and fell to a 3-3 draw last weekend against fellow strugglers Brighton.
On Sunday, Pep Guardiola kept his side in the dressing room for almost 50 minutes after the defeat for Spurs; trying to figure out what exactly was going wrong. Guardiola used a 4-3-3 formation in the last loss, but also failed to win with a 3-2-4-1 set up against United a few days earlier. You would expect Guardiola to continue with the 4-3-3 set up with changes of personnel more likely than changes in formation/tactics.
David Moyes is yet to totally settle on a formation since taking over in the New Year with him varying between 5-3-2, 5-4-1 and 4-1-4-1 set ups. You would think the 5-4-1 would be the most sensible way to set up at the Etihad, as it offers the most defensive stability while giving the Hammers a chance to try and punish City with the long ball.
Graham Scott will be in charge on Sunday evening. Making his Premier League debut in 2014, the 52 year old has refereed 63 top flight games, showing 168 yellow cards and nine red cards. He will be assisted by linesmen Neil Davies and Richard West, while Chris Kavanagh will be fourth official. Craig Pawson and Constantine Hatzidakis will be on VAR duties.
Follow us on Twitter for live match coverage: @City_Xtra
Follow the Author here: @harrywinters16