Manchester City will be aiming to stretch their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six matches as they face a tricky trip to sixth-placed West Ham United in Saturday’s late kick-off.
For a side that had won its last four games in succession, West Ham made a very poor start last weekend away to struggling Newcastle United, conceding two goals in the first quarter of an hour which would eventually condemn them to a deserved defeat. They failed to impose themselves at all in the opening half, and unlike the match at Bournemouth four days earlier the Londoners were unable to turn things around after the interval despite Nikica Jelavic scoring his first goal for the club.
Here they are chasing a hugely notable double, having caused a shock by winning at the Etihad Stadium back in September and in doing so end Man City’s perfect start to the campaign. The Hammers are normally well for it when they welcome one of the leading clubs and a considerable atmosphere is generated from the stands, which will only increase if Dimitri Payet can do the damage once again and captain Mark Noble put in his usual midfield shift.
Depending on other results earlier on Saturday, victory here could take Man City back to the top of the Premier League ahead of current leaders Arsenal’s meeting with Chelsea the day after, so herein lies an opportunity for them to lay down a marker and perhaps gain some kind of psychological advantage over their rivals. Coming out on top here will be immensely tough however, especially given the difficulties Manuel Pellegrini’s men have had on the road of late.
After allowing visitors Crystal Palace a few early half-chances, City found their fluency as the game wore on and began to show glimpses of their best football, with David Silva emerging from perhaps his least influential period at the club to get back on the scoresheet. The clean sheet will have given them a confidence boost defensively, while young Nigerian striker Kalechi Iheanacho is now really beginning to force his way into the reckoning and could earn another start here.
The highly-rated Sam Byram could make his West Ham debut after joining from Leeds United on Thursday, but James Collins is doubtful. On a more positive note, Joey O’Brien is back from a long-term injury.
Fernandinho returns for Man City after a three game absence, but Aleksandar Kolarov has picked up an injury and misses out along with Wilfried Bony, Eliaquim Mangala and Samir Nasri.
Played for both – Carlos Tevez: Signed alongside Javier Mascherano in a high-profile and massively controversial deal in August 2006, Tevez infamously scored the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League in what turned out to be his only season with the club. He moved to Man City in 2009 and helped them win the title in 2012 and the FA Cup in 2011, scoring 58 goals in 113 league appearances in what was an often turbulent spell.