West Ham should give Manchester City a good run for their money when they host the reigning Premier League champions at Upton Park on Saturday (12:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
The Hammers have made a good start to the new season and are fourth in the Premier League table, with 13 points from four wins, one draw and three defeats. They recorded their third victory in four matches with a 3-1 win away to Burnley last weekend.
Sam Allardyce’s (pictured) side were pinned back by their hosts during the first half, but they made a strong start to the second period, establishing a two-goal lead thanks to headers from Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia. Burnley pulled one back following some sloppy defending, before substitute Carlton Cole secured the three points.
Allardyce kept his job this summer after promising to deliver more entertaining football. He has, after a slightly shaky beginning, been true to his word. Summer signings Valencia and Sakho, who has scored in six consecutive matches, have formed a strong and mobile partnership up front, while Stewart Downing has flourished in a free role behind them.
The Hammers failed to score in their opening day defeat to Tottenham Hotspur but have found the back of the net in each of their subsequent eight matches in all competitions. They are conceding at a marginally higher rate than last year but the overall signs are positive. Saturday aside, they have a relatively kind run of fixtures until the latter part of December.
Allardyce will definitely be without the injured Andy Carroll (ankle) and Chiekhou Kouyate (groin), while Guy Demel (thigh), James Tomkins (thigh) and Mauro Zarate (knock) are doubtful.
Man City come into this on the back of a disappointing draw away to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. They have otherwise made a solid start to the season and are second in the Premier League table, with 17 points from five wins, two draws and one defeat.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side raced into a two-goal lead in Moscow thanks to first-half goals from Sergio Aguero and James Milner, only to then be pegged back to 2-2 during the second half. They have picked up just two points from three Champions League matches to date and must beat CSKA in the return fixture to give themselves a realistic chance of qualifying.
City made easier work of Tottenham last weekend, winning 4-1 thanks to four goals from Aguero. In truth, Spurs did cause Man City some problems, but Aguero’s clinical touch in front of goal, combined with some poor defending, allowed Pellegrini’s side to emerge triumphant. After an injury hit campaign last season, Aguero looks to be back to his best.
The club had some very tough fixtures in the early part of the season, facing all three of last season’s other top-four finishers in their first five matches of the campaign. There is a Manchester derby to come in a couple of weeks time, but City’s other fixtures between now and the end of the year suggest they should be a strong position by the time 2015 comes around.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Samir Nasri (groin) for the trip to the Boleyn Ground but otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
West Ham v Man City Betting Tips
City were comfortable victors in all four of the meetings between these sides last season, winning 2-0 at home and 3-1 away in the Premier League and recording a 9-0 aggregate success in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup. Man City have won eight of the last 10 matches between the sides in all competitions. West Ham’s last victory over City came back in 2009.
The Hammers have had a mixed bag of results at the Boleyn Ground so far this season, losing to Spurs and Southampton but defeating Liverpool and Queen’s Park Rangers. They do, however, possess two in-form strikers who will be hopeful of causing the City defence problems with their power and pace.
Man City are undefeated in four Premier League away matches, having recorded three wins and one draw. They did, though, concede twice in two of those matches and do look a little vulnerable against teams who are capable of transitioning swiftly from defence to attack. Their attacking talent should, however, be sufficient to tip the balance in their favour.
- Back Man City on the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market @ best odds of 2/1 with William Hill.
- Aguero is in the midst of a hot-streak, having scored in each of his last five matches for City in all competitions. He is the sort of sharp and skilful striker that West Ham’s defence struggle against, as evidenced by his two goals against them in last season’s equivalent fixture. Back Sergio Aguero to score at anytime @ best betting odds of evens with Betfair Sportsbook. If that does not last then next best is 17/20 with Ladbrokes. This bet is as short as 1/2 with some firms.