Venue: Boleyn Ground
Date: 23 January 2016
Kick off: 17:30
Much like the unfortunate lady it was named after, West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground will be exterminated in a rather unholy fashion at the end of the season to make way for something a little more glamorous. OK, so maybe Jane Seymour wasn’t exactly a looker; but it’s difficult to argue that the Hammer’s new home isn’t a more charismatic alternative to their current stadium.
West Ham will move to the 54,000 capacity Olympic Stadium at the end of the season, meaning Saturday’s tie will be City’s final visit to the Premier League’s 8th oldest ground. But really, who cares? Tony Pulis did a miles better job of glorifying the crumbling and rusting heap of bricks and metal two months ago when he labeled the stadium one of his ‘favourite grounds’. I can’t say it’s anything special, myself, and all I’m really arsed about this weekend is getting a win.
With Fernandinho back in contention, our chances of collecting three points certainly increases. Ferna returns after shaking-off the knock that kept him out of our last 3 matches: against Norwich, Everton and Palace. Pellegrini is likely to play him alongside Fabian Delph who picked up the Man of the Match award in the 4-0 win over Palace last weekend and Yaya – who impressed with a late cameo in that game, could be deployed just in front of them.
Despite training with the team, Mangala is still out meaning Demichelis is set to partner Otamendi in the centre of defence for the third game running. Mangala was expected to return to the squad this weekend, but after the gruesome details of his contract were released via Footy Leaks he probably decided it’d be best to stay in the shadows for a little longer. Smart move, Elia.
With three clean sheets in our last three games, though, I can’t say I have too many complaints about Nico and Martin lining up together again tomorrow. Bony and Kolarov remain unavailable and Angelino’s omission from today’s EDS squad suggests he’ll take a place on the bench as cover for Clichy.
Victor Moses parted the Blue Sea to send the Hammers on their way to a ridiculously fortuitous 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium in September, but the man who netted the winner that day, Diafra Sakho, misses out with a hamstring injury. The Senegalese forward has been making the most of his lengthy spell on the sidelines and recently crashed his Lamborghini into a London garden. Luckily, no one, other than the home owner’s bank account, was hurt in the accident.
Andy Carroll, who has a record of five goals in 14 games against us, and Manuel Lanzini are also unavailable with knocks. Carroll’s commanding aerial presence always worries me, so I’m glad he’s out. Our lads will have to keep an eye on Dimtri Payet, though, who has been terrific since returning from injury against Liverpool at the start of the month.
Payet, a player many West Ham supporters still can’t believe wears the claret and blue colours every weekend, has six goals and four assists to his name this term and has been one of the best and most intelligent midfielders in the league since reluctantly moving from Marseille in the summer. Everything goes through him and we’ll have to go with a combativeparternship in the centre of midfield – preferably Fernandinho and Delph – if we’re going to cut off West Ham’s main supply of imagination.
Our hasty dreams of an unbeaten season crashed and burned at the hands of Slaven Bilić’s side last September, so a bit of revenge tomorrow would be lovely. However, like ourselves, West Ham are doing an impeccable job of keeping European hopes alive without actually playing great football and will be confident of doing us again, even with a weakened side. We’ve not won at the Boleyn ground since 2013 when Agüero bagged a brace and David Silva capped off a 3-1 win. The pair netted three between them against Palace last week, so I’m hoping for a bit of déjà vu tomorrow evening.
It’ll be close, and you’re dreaming if you think it’ll be pretty. 1-2.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-01-23″ default_css=”true”]