Saturday’s teatime fixture sees West Ham face their toughest test so far since their promotion with a home clash against the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
The Hammers have started the season brilliantly with 14 points from their opening nine games, but Sam Allardyce will be disappointed with defeat away at Wigan last weekend. West Ham have lost only once at home this season, a 3-1 loss to Arsenal, and Allardyce will be hoping to keep out City. The Hammers are still without Guy Demel, Matt Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te and Jack Collison, but Allardyce does have Andy Carroll up front who could cause problems against City’s out-of-sorts defence so far this season.
City have practiced against neutralising Carroll’s threat by using giant goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon up front in training, but Mancini still has defensive issues. Micah Richards’ knee injury in the win over Swansea last weekend could rule him out for up to four months, but Pablo Zabaleta may return after three weeks’ absence with a hamstring problem. Javi Garcia is available after a thigh problem and James Milner returns from suspension. The reigning champions have Carlos Tevez primed in attack against the club who brought him to English football and the Argentinian will be looking to add to his four league goals so far this season.
West Ham could cause problems to City’s back four and with the Manchester club having a must-win Champions League tie against Ajax on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if Roberto Mancini prioritises the fixture at the Etihad Stadium in midweek. City’s squad should be big enough to handle both occasions and depending on how Manchester United’s lunchtime clash with Arsenal goes, they could be three points behind their bitter rivals at kick-off.