Written by Aaron Crowie for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
West Ham vs Manchester City | Saturday 23 January | The Boelyn Ground | 19:30
West Ham United host title-chasers Manchester City looking to pull the double over The Citizens after winning the reverse fixture 2-1. It won’t be just about revenge for Man City though, as they have the opportunity to make ground, if not leapfrog Leicester City and Arsenal, depending on their weekend results.
Can the Hammers claim an unlikely double over City or will Manuel Pellgrini's men continue their recent good form and hunt for a third Premier League title?
To Win Match
West Ham 38/10
Manchester City 13/20
West Ham United
West Ham ended a run of three consecutive wins last time out, going down 2-1 at Newcastle United. The scoreline may look close, but the Magpies were far superior. The Hammers now face a stern test in Man City; and if they are to come away with a point let alone three, they will need to be at their very best. Despite facing a somewhat disappointing early exit from the Capital One Cup, West Ham have nonetheless begun the 2015/16 campaign in tremendous style.
The Hammers may have fallen short against the likes of Leicester City and Bournemouth at home – but in triumphantly beating each of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City on the road – the West Ham faithful certainly have reason to be excited this term. Considering the fact that West Ham currently sit sixth in the table at this stage of the season, shows vast improvement under Slaven Bilic. The Croatian tactician has got The Hammers playing an exciting brand of football, instead of their dull defensive approach under former manager Sam Allardyce.
West Ham’s most dangerous player is without a doubt Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman has been outstanding for The Hammers, scoring six goals and registering four assists in his last 14 matches since joining from Ligue 1 side Marseille in the summer. Payet’s tally of 17 assists was the best in France and the fourth best in any major European league in 2014/15. That’s the headline statistic but the underlying data was arguably even more impressive. His total of 134 chances created was more than anyone else. Indeed, only two other players – Kevin de Bruyne and former Lille teammate Eden Hazard – topped 100. Payet has quick feet, great vision and creativity with an eye for goal, and he will certainly be a key player for West Ham’s chances of success this season.
Cheikhou Kouyate has been another revelation under the tutelage of Bilic. He does a superb job breaking up play, and still has the energy and power to attack the game when his team needs to. Enner Valencia will most likely lead the line for The Hammers. The Ecuadorian is strong on the ball, and has great movement off it as well. He is hard-working, quick off the mark, strong in the air and should cause City’s defence all kinds of problems.
Man City claimed a convincing 4-0 win over Crystal Palace at a snowy Etihad stadium to close the gap at the top of the Premier League. A 4-0 victory against a very capable side is an excellent result that continues City's good home form. Manuel Pellegrini's side failed to score against Everton in their last league game, and there were concerns over the form of Sergio Aguero going into the game.
But the Argentine - who had scored just once in his past five league games - showed his class, scoring twice and setting up the impressive David Silva for another, as the hosts found the net with all four shots on target. Pellegrini's side have looked tired and dull in recent weeks, but their victory over Crystal Palace has instilled belief and confidence not just in their players but their faithful supporters as well. Man City have plenty of game changers among the team, so it’s difficult to say who is the most dangerous player.
Since coming to the Premier League in the summer of 2011, Aguero has bagged 88 goals, 10 more than any other player. And after bagging a brace last time out, looks to be finding his feet. Kevin de Bruyne has looked one of the players of the season, registering 11 goals and 11 assists in 29 appearances in all competitions for Manchester City. It’s fair to say Silva is getting back to his best as well. The Spanish international keeps City buzzing with his quick feet, agility and pace on the ball.
Another player who bosses the midfield is Yaya Toure; while Aguero and Silva have struggled to find form, the Ivorian has stepped up and dragged Man City to victory when all seem doomed. Toure is big, strong and powerful. He’s work ethic and hard-running are ever present, playing as a box-to-box midfielder. The Sky Blues have not been beaten in the league since their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal before Christmas and with Aguero and Silva hitting their stride after injury, are finding form at just the right time.
Verdict: Manchester City + Both Teams To Score: 21/10
Man City have won only four of their 10 travels in the league, however, West Ham have been just as poor on their ground. The Hammers won this fixture 2-1 last season and as mentioned above, won the reverse tie by the same score line. However, judging by the performance of West Ham compared to Man City last time out, The Citizens look far more lethal. West could get a goal, but Man City are tipped to claim maximum points. Back City for the Win + Both Teams To Score at 21/10.
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