Manchester City will travel down to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United this weekend. It is yet another crucial tie in this remarkable title race, in which Pep Guardiola's men will need to take all 3 points from David Moyes' side for City to be as comfortable as possible heading into the final day of the season. The match will kick off at 14:00 (BST) on Sunday the 15th of May – and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event.
Following the Newcastle win last weekend, Guardiola confirmed that Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Ruben Dias would not play again this season with their respective injury problems. That left a half-fit Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte, and Fernandinho as the centre-back options going into Wolves midweek, and now the latter two are doubts after a heavy knock for the Spaniard and a muscular issue for the captain.
Guardiola confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the two will be assessed ahead of the game. Given Laporte played on after suffering the blow to his knee, we predict he may be able to return after a few days of recovery.
Ederson, Cancelo, Laporte, Ake, Zinchenko, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Mahrez, Foden, Grealish
League position: 1st
Top scorer: Kevin De Bruyne (15)
Previous result: W 1-5 vs Wolves (A)
In their most recent outing, City were ruthless. A 5-1 away win over Wolverhampton Wanderers with Kevin De Bruyne scoring a sensational four goals and Raheem Sterling netting City’s 5th. In what seemingly looked like a potential banana skin for Guardiola’s men, City were fearless. They controlled the game nicely with 67% possession of the ball, making 787 passes with a passing accuracy of 91%. At the business end of the season, City have meant business. The league leaders have scored 19 goals in their previous four Premier League matches and have only conceded twice.
Against Wolves, De Bruyne was incontestable as Man of the Match. The right-footed Belgian managed to score four goals (three of which were with his left foot). He made 38 passes in the final third, had 84% passing accuracy, had six shots, and scored four goals. Only three centre-midfielders have ever scored four goals in a single Premier League game: Frank Lampard (2008 & 2010), Georginio Wijnaldum (2015) and De Bruyne (2022). De Bruyne has been the driving force of City’s title charge, once again proving why he is undoubtedly the best midfielder in the world right now. In the league in 2022, he has played 14 matches, scored 10 goals, and provided six assists. The Belgian international is one of two City players that have been nominated as the Premier League player of the season.
The other City player nominated as the Premier League player of the season is Joao Cancelo. In the league this season, Cancelo has had more shots than any other City player (77). Along with De Bruyne, he has also completed the joint-most through balls for City in the league this season (18). He has completed more passes this season than anyone in the Premier League (2799) and has shown clear progression in the defensive side of his game, making more tackles than any other City player in the league this season (86). Cancelo is the only player with 50+ aerial duels won, 50+ take-ons completed and 50+ tackles made in the league this season.
City have improved their goal difference by +17 in their last four league matches, whereas title rivals Liverpool have only improved their goal difference by +4. This has come at a crucial time for the league leaders, as they now have a +7 goal difference over Jurgen Klopp’s men. Guardiola will be hoping that the title will not be decided by goal difference, as that would mean that City have lost one of their last two matches. Nonetheless, if the title is to be decided this way, City’s ruthless goal scoring form at the twilight of the season will have proved to be pivotal.
It is the penultimate match in what has been an incredible season for City. An undoubtedly difficult away match against West Ham will be followed by another tricky fixture against Aston Villa at the Etihad. The Blues will need to use their quality and their experience if they are to finish the season as champions. With Dias, Walker and Stones, all unavailable for the rest of the season, and Laporte and Fernandinho with knocks, Guardiola will need his makeshift defence to hold strong and see the job through.
League position: 7th
Top scorer: Jarrod Bowen (10)
Previous result: W 0-4 vs Norwich City (A)
In their previous outing, West Ham got an emphatic 4-0 victory over relegated Norwich. The goal scorers for Moyes’ side were Said Benrahma (2), Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini. The Hammers had the lion's share of possession with 64% and made 679 passes with 90% accuracy. West Ham have now scored 4+ goals in four of their 18 away games in the league this season. The Hammers need a win from one of their final two fixtures to ensure their place in the UEFA Europa Conference League. If West Ham manage to win both of their remaining matches, they will likely leapfrog Manchester United and gain entry to the Europa League as they have a +10 better goal difference than United.
Before the Norwich game, West Ham were without a win in five matches. The Hammers lost in the league to Chelsea and Arsenal, drew with Burnley, and lost in both legs of their Europa League semi-final with Eintracht Frankfurt. Despite a difficult run of matches at a crucial point of the season, West Ham fans will remain hopeful that their side can qualify for European football next season. After the heartbreak in the semi-final this year, the Hammers will be hoping they get their chance to go one further next year and reach a European Cup final.
One man that has been terrific this year for West Ham is Jarrod Bowen. In all competitions this season, Bowen has scored 16 goals and provided 13 assists. Only Paulo Di Canio (99/00) and Bowen (21/22) have scored 10+ goals and provided 10+ assists in a single Premier League season for West Ham. The Englishman was signed from Hull City in January 2020 in a reported £20 million-plus deal. Since signing for the Hammers, Bowen has made 85 Premier League appearances, scored 19 times, and has provided 21 assists. Bowen has an average of a goal involvement every 2.1 games in the league for West Ham.
Another player that has been magnificent for the Hammers this season is Declan Rice. Rice has been nominated for the Premier League Young Player of the Year award, along with Foden, Alexander Arnold, Gallagher, Mitchell, Mount, Ramsdale and Saka. Rice has made more tackles (70) and more passes (2064) than any other West Ham player in the league this season. The 23-year-old has also chipped in with five goals and four assists in all competitions, which is his best season in terms of goal involvements he has had so far in his career. The England international has looked like an excellent leader for West Ham and will likely step into Mark Noble’s shoes as captain after he retires at the end of the season.
For West Ham, Sunday’s fixture will see them bid farewell to club legend Mark Noble. The Englishman made his senior debut for West Ham in August 2004, when Alan Pardew was the manager in a Carling Cup first-round tie with Southend United. Since then, Noble has made 412 Premier League appearances and has made over 500 appearances for West Ham. In the Premier League, the West Ham skipper has made 875 tackles throughout his career, which is the fifth most of any player. The 35-year-old was first made captain in 2015 and has been an excellent servant for the club throughout his whole career.
The first time that City and West Ham met was back in April 1924, a 2-1 win for City at Upton Park. Frank Roberts and Tommy Bromwell were the scorers for City on the day, it was a result that left City 12th in the league in the old English Division One.
In the league, City are unbeaten against West Ham in each of their last 12 meetings. The last time that West Ham beat City in a Premier League match was in September 2015, a 2-1 win for West Ham at the Etihad Stadium.
The last time these two sides met was in November 2021, a 2-1 win for City at the Etihad Stadium. Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring on the day in the 33rd minute. City appeared to wrap the game up in the 90th minute with a goal from Fernandinho to make it 2-0 – however, in the 94th minute, a sensational strike from Lanzini made it 2-1. In the end, City came away with the three points.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick & Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Graham Scott
VAR: John Brooks
Assistant VAR: Simon Long
Written by: @CharleyLongden
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