Top of the league with maximum points from five games, Manchester City will be aiming to recover from their midweek European setback with a win over West Ham United in Saturday’s late kick-off.
There was a noticeable difference between City’s display against Juventus on Tuesday evening and the ones which have seen them imperiously to the top of the Premier League. They lacked flair and inventiveness for the most part as their attacking quartet all struggled to get into their game. Samir Nasri was particularly anonymous, while Wilfried Bony found the going tough in his attempts to serve as an adequate deputy for Sergio Aguero.
But more than anything, they showed too much respect to the Italian champions, suggesting there is still plenty to learn for City as they look to take that next step towards conquering the continent. Everything is rosy at home, with a four-point lead already established over their nearest challengers. Crystal Palace gave them their biggest test so far, but it was passed thanks to a winner from an unlikely source – little-known Nigerian youngster Kelechi Iheanacho.
West Ham have certainly shown in their previous two away matches that they have the potential to cause City major problems, having played with eye-catching efficiency in wins over Arsenal and Liverpool. Effective counter-attacking and sturdy defending were the crucial aspects behind those successes, and they will need all of that here in order to get a positive result, with the hosts certain to put them under pressure from the start.
On Monday the Hammers managed to secure their first home win of the season against a toothless Newcastle United; one which showed off the quality of several of their summer signings, who have given the squad a real element of strength in depth. Dimitri Payet was the star of the show with both goals and will be a major threat to City’s perfect defensive record, but the pace of Victor Moses could prove to be a hugely effective part of their armoury over the course of what is all set to be a positive first season in charge for Slaven Bilic.
Aguero will be restored to the Man City team for this one, but captain Vincent Kompany misses out, meaning a first Premier League start for Nicolas Otamendi. Nasri will not be risked after picking up a knock against Juventus.
A hamstring injury rules out Angelo Ogbonna for West Ham, who are also without Enner Valencia, Alexandre Song and Joey O’Brien. However, the visitors are hopeful over the fitness of Pedro Obiang and Mauro Zarate.
Last Meeting: This game last season was where Man City began their current record breaking run of 11 successive league wins, as two first half goals gave them a routine victory. The first came in bizarre fashion as an attempted clearance from James Collins only succeeding in finding its way into his own net, as West Ham rarely threatened, Sergio Aguero got the second after latching on to a pass from Jesus Navas.
Played for both – Trevor Sinclair: The talented winger joined West Ham from London rivals Queens Park Rangers in January 1998 and was immediately a top performer as he helped the club to an eighth-placed finish that season. He went on to score 37 goals in 177 league appearances before moving on to Man City following relegation in 2003. Over the course of four seasons, the England star netted five times in 82 games.