Our football writer previews the EPL clash between West Ham and Manchester City.
Slaven Bilic’s side have emerged out of the saga that was the Dimitri Payet story. It will obviously be a body blow that the fans will have to suffer - the French playmaker is considered one of West Ham’s greatest Premier League players - but at least they can refocus their efforts, while the return to form of Andy Carroll has alleviated some of the anguish caused by the Payet departure.
Man City’s domestic season has been a schizophrenic blur of the sublime and the ridiculous. Perhaps the best looking side when in full flow, the Citizens have been woefully struggling to keep a clean sheet. Pep Guardiola will know that all three points will be mandatory this weekend.
English Premier League | Wednesday 1 February | London Stadium | 21:45
To Win (90 Mins)
West Ham 17/4 | Draw 32/10 | Manchester City 11/20
West Ham United
West Ham will want to quickly exorcise the memories of that horrible Cup exit from a few weeks back. They will now know not to fall into City’s trap of inviting concerted possession. The acquisitions of Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte will bolster the faint European desires that this team possesses.
Antonio may find himself playing in the right wing-back role this weekend, a role that I actually think suits him best. Man City have shown vulnerability down that side this season, with both Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy regressing in their defensive abilities.
Clearly, West Ham are going to have to be prudent in attack - such is the counterattacking threat posed by Man City. I expect them to persist with their 3-4-3 formation, with Snodgrass and Manuel Lanzini up front supporting Carroll.
Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble are going to have to retain their discipline and look out for those counterattacks. Carroll will look at the way Romelu Lukaku, absolutely dominated them physically two weeks ago and will no doubt feel confident he can dominate Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones.
Manchester City will be looking to build on a solid showing in the Cup match this weekend. They were terrific against Spurs last time out in the league but somehow managed to conspire to draw that encounter.
Gabriel Jesus seemed to add some new energy to proceedings, but I think Guardiola will resist the temptation to start him this weekend.
I expect Yaya Toure to start on the bench while Guardiola reverts to the 4-1-4-1 formation that he favours so. When you look at the pace in Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, you have got to feel that West Ham will have a difficult evening this week.
However, the physical presence of Carroll coupled with the amazing left boot of Snodgrass could render City’s footballing superiority obsolete.
Verdict: Both Teams To Score - Yes - (13/20)
I feel a bit torn this week. Man City have the ability to beat anyone while there is a little bit of momentum building at West Ham. Perhaps the prudent option would be to back both sides scoring. Claudio Bravo is incapable of keeping a clean sheet in the Premier League while City will always present a threat on the break.
Written by Damien Kayat