Preview: Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs West Ham United
Manchester City returned to the summit of the Premier League table on Sunday with a nervy 2-1 win at Fulham. Title rivals Arsenal are in action tonight against Chelsea, but City will have the chance to strengthen their title bid on Wednesday, May 3, against a different side from the capital: West Ham United. Kick-off at the Etihad Stadium will commence at 20:00 (BST), with the match to be televised on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.
In Pep Guardiola’s pre-match press conference on Tuesday, the Catalan confirmed that Nathan Ake had returned to training after a hamstring injury had kept the Dutchman out of the past three matches.
However, the Blues faithful were also met with an uneasy surprise when team news broke out ahead of the weekend’s match at Craven Cottage, with Kevin De Bruyne deemed not fit enough to feature.
The latest on the Belgian is that he is yet to train again. Guardiola said:
"We have training in a few hours, we will see how they feel."
Elsewhere, the four-time Premier League-winning coach has a fully fit, yet tiring, squad at his disposal.
Ederson will start in goal, with Ruben Dias and John Stones (in one of various positions) ahead of him. Kyle Walker has seen a run of games recently; he may start again, though Rico Lewis is in need of deserved minutes. Manuel Akanji may start again at left-back, with Aymeric Laporte out of favour still and Ake’s fitness uncertain.
The City midfield will be anchored by Rodri, with either captain Ilkay Gundogan or Bernardo Silva further in front of the Spaniard.
Julian Alvarez will feel he did enough in west London to retain his place in that second striker role, supporting the record-breaking Erling Haaland.
Making up the attack, Phil Foden may be due a return to the starting lineup, but can Jack Grealish be dropped? He started all eight of the club’s matches in April, while Riyad Mahrez will be eyeing another start on the right.
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji; Rodri, Gundogan, Alvarez; Mahrez, Haaland, Foden
West Ham have enjoyed a fruitful past few seasons under David Moyes, with the Scotsman having defied the odds to lead the Hammers to consecutive European semi-finals.
After falling short in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals last term, the Irons made some ambitious moves in the summer transfer window, recruiting the likes of Lucas Paqueta, Gianluca Scamacca and Naif Aguerd.
However, the east London club are suffering from something of a European burnout, having been sucked into a relegation dogfight for the 2022-23 campaign.
Despite some solid form before the World Cup break, inconsistency crept in towards the start of the calendar year, and four-goal defeats to Brighton and Newcastle in March and April left them looking very vulnerable.
Since then, they’ve earned big wins over Fulham, Bournemouth and Gent and a draw against Arsenal.
But consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Crystal Palace in the past week leave West Ham in 15th place, four points above the drop zone, with this being their game in hand.
Paqueta seems to have finally found his feet in claret and blue, while the likes of Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen have started to contribute again, as six-pointers against Leeds and Leicester loom to end the season.
City can boast a fantastic record against West Ham.
The Blues have lost just three times in their previous 37 meetings with the Irons, with the club undefeated against them under Pep Guardiola (P15 W12 D3). In the 19 matches between the sides that have taken place at the Etihad, City have won 17, losing just once.
Meanwhile, in the Premier League champions’ 16-match unbeaten streak against the Irons, they have kept eight clean sheets, averaging one every other game.
With that, perhaps the Blues are due a clean sheet here, as in this fixture last season, Manuel Lanzini scored a screamer to give the travelling Hammers fans something to celebrate on a snowy afternoon in Manchester, which saw goals from Gundogan and Fernandinho seal the three points.
The reverse fixture also came in the midst of a nerve-wracking title run-in where, despite trailing to a Bowen double, the Citizens salvaged a point late on to take it to the final day after Mahrez missed a spot kick.
Finally, the only contest between the sides since then came on the opening day of what could prove to be a historic campaign, where Haaland marked his debut with a brace. Just the 48 goals since then for the number nine.
West Ham will be fighting, but City should feel confident about this.
Referee: John Brooks
Assistants: Matthew Wilkes & Nick Greenhalgh
Fourth Official: Robert Jones
VAR: Michael Salisbury
Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis
Written by: @AdamHowarthSJ
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