Manchester City welcome West Ham to the Etihad on Sunday in David Moyes’ fourth game in charge of the Hammers.
Moyes is yet to win as manager of West Ham with two defeats and a draw in his first three matches. They were thrashed 4-0 by Everton in their previous match and are suffering a poor run of form that sees them in the relegation zone. They will most likely adopt a damage limitation game plan against City and defend deep as most sides visiting the Etihad have done so this season.
Let’s have a look inside the opposition…
Winston Reid (hamstring), Andy Carroll(knee), James Collins (hamstring), Jose Fonte (ankle) and Sam Byram (thigh) are expected absentees from the Hammers’ team and the biggest problem that Moyes will face is that he only has Angelo Ogbonna as the available natural centre-half in his squad. Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate can both fill in but playing against City with a makeshift defence usually spells trouble. Youngster Declan Rice might be drafted in to play as he was the player to take Reid’s place after his injury at Goodison Park, and the 18-year-old will have his work cut out for him.
Moyes has played a 4-2-3-1, a 4-3-3 and a 4-1-4-1 in his first three games at the club and he would undoubtedly want to field a defensive-minded side against the league leaders.
In case Chicharito is deemed not fit enough to start, Andre Ayew will lead the line. He performed well against Spurs in the Carabao Cup and might want to stake a place in the team in absence of competition. Lanzini and Arnautovic are West Ham’s most creative players right now and they will have to be at their best to trouble City’s defense and also cover for their team and help in stopping City’s attackers. The midfield three of Obiang, Noble and Kouyate will try to lie deep, not give up any space and break up play in any way they can.
City legend Zabaleta will play at right-back and face his old team for the first time. Joe Hart is ineligible to play against his parent club and therefore Adrian will be in goal.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Almost exactly two years back, in the 15th game of the 2015-16 season, City went to Stoke to keep pace with Leicester City, who they were level with on top of the table. They were shocked by two quick goals within the first 15 minutes and were not able to mount any sort of a comeback. They were not able to recover in the title race either. Both those goals were scored by the Austrian, Marko Arnautovic. He dominated the City centre-halves that day, heading in the first goal and slotting in the second with a great finish. He has been dangerous in all three of West Ham’s games under Moyes even though he hasn’t fully settled into the team yet. He will want to prove his credentials as the club record signing and remind the Premier League of his talents. Inspiring his team to bring home anything from the home of the league leaders would do just that.
A VIEW FROM THE OPPOSITION
Ahead of Sunday’s encounter, I spoke to West Ham fan resource @WestHam_Central about their thoughts on the upcoming encounter, Moyes and City icons at the Olympic Stadium
How do you feel about the appointment of David Moyes?
I’ve never been overly against it to be honest. I knew that we wouldn’t attract a top manager at this stage of the season and Moyes has experience. A deal until the end of the season is a smart move.
Joe Hart can’t play against his parent club this weekend. How do you think he has done for you so far and what’s your opinion on his career path?
I’m a tad nervous (more than I already was) that Hart won’t be able to play. He hasn’t had a bad loan spell with us so far; the media and the critics have just made it seem them way due to our poor defending. He’s had an amazing career and should still be England’s number one in Russia. With Hart I was expecting to concede at least three, with Adrian, I’m scared of a Premier League record thrashing!
Opinions on Zabaleta?
Zaba has probably been our best player this season. It’s hard to believe that he is 32 years old when he is containing pacy wingers! His experience will help us get out of our current mess.
Who do you think will be your most dangerous player against us?
Arnautovic. He has been Man of the Match in the games under Moyes and is playing with confidence.
Predictions for the game?
It’s hard to predict anything other than a comfortable Manchester City win unfortunately. The past few seasons, you’ve thrashed us again and again. Anything below three goals conceded and I’ll be surprised.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-1 West Ham