Premier League 17/18 Week 36: West Ham United vs Manchester City – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
City can equal Chelsea’s record of 30 league wins with a trip to London to take on a Hammers side who are still far from safe
14:15 BST, Sunday 29th April, London Stadium (London, England) Sky Sports
The Hammers will have watched the teams below them reduce the gap to relegation yesterday. While they’re not in imminent danger, it looks like they will need more points to assure their survival. A trip to the Premier League’s new champions is perhaps not the game they would choose this weekend, however, anything other than defeat will be taken as a bonus.
Having ruthlessly demolished Swansea last weekend, Manchester City continue their victory lap in the Premier League looking to break new grounds as champions. Two or more goals this weekend will see them crash through the 100 goals scored barrier while a win will move them up to 93 points with 3 more fixtures still to play. With no cup distractions City will have their sights firmly fixed on these 4 remaining games which could prove bad news for David Moyes’ team this weekend.
Last Time Out
Arsenal 4-1 West Ham United (Premier League)
A late collapse undid all of West Ham’s hard work as 3 goals in the final 10 minutes left a cruel and unfair note in the history books. West Ham were arguably the better side during a first half which had plenty of action if not any goals. Cheikhou Kouyate watched his header bounce back off the woodwork while Marko Arnautovic proved a menace that the Gunners defence just about kept on top of.
The second half failed to see the Hammers perform to the same levels and Arsenal took charge of the game. Arnautovic struck back to equalise once the Gunners had taken the lead and as the match approached its final stages West Ham seemed capable of securing an important point. However, with Aaron Ramsey’s 82nd-minute goal the Hammers lost their concentration. Two more goals quickly followed and West Ham left the pitch almost shell-shocked.
Manchester City 5-0 Swansea City (Premier League)
City’s first match as champions-proper saw them deliver a crushing defeat to the Swans in a one-sided game. Swansea could not live with the slick passing and fluid movement of their opponents as the home team tore through them.
Raheem Sterling was back to his best with an assist and a goal in the first half before he won a penalty against Federico Fernandez after the interval. Gabriel Jesus continues to have mixed fortunes since replacing the injured Sergio Agüero in the team. The Brazilian spurned the second half penalty which Bernardo Silva converted from Lukasz Fabianski’s save, however, Jesus scored just before the final whistle.
There was little else for City fans to worry about in this game with their team in total command of proceedings. With Ben Mendy making a cameo from the bench as he resumes his recovery from a long-term knee problem, the game ended on a positive note as the fans celebrated loudly when full-time finally put the Swans out of their misery.
West Ham United Lineup
Joe Hart cannot face his parent club which will mean a return to the team for Adrián in goal. Outfield, Winston Reid (knee) Sam Byram (ankle) and James Collins (hamstring) are missing from defence while Pedro Obiang (knee) and Michail Antonio (hamstring) are also unavailable.
Manchester City Lineup
Guardiola will still be without both John Stones (groin) and Sergio Agüero (knee) but otherwise has a fully-fit squad ahead of this match.
Key Battle: João Mário (West Ham United) vs David Silva (Manchester City)
One of the forgotten men in the Hammers squad could play a key role in their chances this weekend. After joining on loan from Inter Milan in January, João Mário is yet to capture the headlines, however, he has quietly improved the Hammers first team. Often played out of position in a left-forward or “number 10” role rather than his preferred central midfield berth, Mário often looks slow and off-the-pace. It was in this forward position that he scored his only goal so far against Southampton, a game in which he excelled, and hints that there’s much more to follow from the Portuguese attacker.
Such is the wealth of talent in Manchester City’s squad, it’s easy to overlook the contribution made by Silva. His midfield creativity and ability to regain and keep possession plays a crucial role in his side’s overarching gameplan and he will be integral in this fixture too. With 4 goals and 2 assists recorded over his last 6 matches against West Ham, he could come to the fore in a more telling way on Sunday.
3 plans for the price of 1
When these two teams met at the Etihad in December’s reverse fixture, it took a late goal for City to finally clinch the victory. West Ham’s backs-to-the-wall tactics almost paid dividends and Moyes will be looking at a similar approach in this game.
The West Ham manager conceded in his pre-game press conference he not only expects the visitors to enjoy more possession and shots throughout this fixture, he also sees Guardiola’s side being able to work around the system West Ham use to thwart them. The Hammers will take several gameplans into this match and look to keep changing their style of play to prevent City building up a telling weight of momentum. Whether this can work for the full 90 minutes this time around remains to be seen.
No go, Joe
Joe Hart may not feature for either team this weekend but the former City number 1 is still held in high regard by the blue half of Manchester. Pep Guardiola made replacing the keeper one of his first moves in joining City. It was an unpopular choice, however, it’s ultimately proven to have been correct both in opening up City’s possession game and for shedding a keeper who’s career is in decline.
Despite a return to West Ham’s first team and several impressive and important saves, there appears little chance that Hart will be England’s first choice in Russia this summer. With his future in doubt after a failed move to Serie A last season, the 31-year-old will receive a warm welcome as he takes his place on the bench this weekend.
Prediction: West Ham United 0-3 Manchester City
West Ham have proved tricky opponents to the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham this season, however, Manchester City could be a step too far for them. City are in fine form and looking to prove themselves after their cup exits. For a side who have scored 9 goals without reply from their previous 2 visits to the London Stadium, the warning signs look ominous for West Ham this weekend.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/John Sibley)