Manchester City v West Ham United Cheat Sheet
Manchester City v West Ham United
Wednesday night sees West Ham travel to Manchester to the Etihad Stadium in an important battle for both sides. The home side are now confident of winning the Premier League, on the back of eight league wins in a row, ahead of Arsenal by one point having played a game fewer coming into this round of fixtures. The visitors are on 34 points, four above the drop, which may be enough given that Leicester (30), Leeds (30), Nottingham Forest (30) and Everton (29) are all struggling, but Hammers fans will want a few more points just to ensure their safety for another year.
Manchester City have set their sights on the Champions League as their primary goal this season, but manager Pep Guardiola will be aiming for a double from here. Next Tuesday they travel to Spain to face Madrid before hosting Los Blancos at the Etihad the following Wednesday in the Champions League semi-finals, and they face Manchester United in the FA Cup final at the beginning of June. Following an impressive 4-1 victory over Arsenal, they backed up their performance with a comfortable 2-1 win at Craven Cottage on the weekend and they are now in full flow whilst the Gunners have struggled in recent weeks. Their only setback in their last 14 matches was against Bayern Munich, and even then, they had already won the tie before they travelled to Germany. Spurs were the last team to defeat Manchester City, way back in early February, and City have won every game they have played at their home ground in 2023. Nathan Ake may return to the squad following a hamstring injury but will not start, but Kevin de Bruyne is a doubt as he missed the win at Fulham.
Although West Ham fans have been disappointed by the team’s performance this season, the players can make it a success by avoiding relegation and winning the Conference League, for which they are the frontrunners with the bookies. They have a four-point gap between them and the relegation zone with a game in hand, so they only need one more victory to secure their place in the top division next season. The Hammers’ supporters were left frustrated by their narrow loss to Liverpool last week after initially taking the lead, and a similar outcome occurred in their match against Crystal Palace over the weekend, where they scored first but ultimately lost 4-3. Kurt Zouma was taken off in the first half of the defeat at Palace and he will be likely to be sidelined for a few weeks. Gianluca Scamacca remains injured having foregone knee surgery so Michail Antonio and Danny Ings will continue their fight to start up front. Moyes may select a back three with Zouma out and Kehrer would likely help Coufal on the right if the manager does change his formation.
Manchester City have been on fire in recent weeks. They have won 13 of their last 14, winning 12 of them on expected goals, and have scored 47 times in that period. This selection has landed in 11 and in 11 of their 12 at the Etihad in 2023. Their last seven matches here have all been against teams currently in the top seven (or in the Champions League) except for Leicester, who they beat 3-1. They won all of those matches by two or more goals and by an aggregate score line of 24-4. The reverse fixture saw the Cityzens win 2-0 at the London Stadium.
West Ham’s away record against teams currently in the top eight has been poor. They have won just one – against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa – and have drawn at Newcastle. Other than that, they have played six in all competitions, scoring just two goals. This selection has landed in four of them, accumulating 4.6 expected goals and allowing 10.0 expected goals against.
World Cup winner Julian Alvarez is unfortunate to play for Manchester City and has only been given limited opportunities to show his undoubted talent this season, even though he’d start for almost every other Premier League club. In all competitions for club and country this season, he has played 2879 minutes, scoring 22 goals and grabbing four assists at a rate of 0.81 goal contributions per 90. He has started nine times at home for Manchester City this season, scoring a total of 11 goals and incredibly has scored in all of those matches.
He has also had three assists in those games and Manchester City have won all of them. De Bruyne missed out on the weekend and is a doubt here so Alvarez should be rewarded with another start here, especially given that Guardiola heaped praise on him after he won a penalty and scored a world-class goal. The Spaniard even said he needed to find a way to incorporate Haaland, De Bruyne and Alvarez all into the same starting 11.
Thilo Kehrer has committed 29 fouls (an average of 1.36 per 90) this season, putting him behind only Lucas Paqueta (45) and Tomas Soucek (47) in the West Ham squad, receiving four yellow cards. In the 22 league games he has started for his club this season, he has made at least one foul in 17 of those matches. When playing away from home, he has made nine fouls in nine games, and committed at least one in six of those games. He made a foul at each of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, and was booked at Stamford Bridge.
His opponent here will be Jack Grealish, who has drawn the third-highest number of fouls (72) of any player in the league, behind Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew, and is fouled an average of 3.32 times per game. Grealish has started 21 games for City in 2023, being fouled 62 times. He has been fouled at least twice 17 times, including in 12 of his last 14.
Kehrer is not certain to start so it may be worth waiting until David Moyes has announced his starting 11, but Kurt Zouma went off injured on Saturday meaning that Moyes has a headache at the back. Vladimir Coufal, West Ham’s right-back, had a tough time against Zaha and Ayew against Crystal Palace, so Moyes will likely need to provide him with more support against Jack Grealish. This could see them revert to a five at the back formation, or Kehrer playing at full-back in a four, as he has done this season.
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