A lot of comparisons have already been made regarding the West Ham of this season and last. All would agree that it’s been a positive upgrade in terms of both style and substance, with the side’s clinical ability upfront perhaps the greatest boost to the way things have been going. Today, however, against a team that scored 14 past us in just four games during the last campaign, it’s time to see how much has really changed.
Man City are the same – if not more – ferocious side that they have been for the previous year. Sergio Aguero is now undoubtedly one of the world’s leading strikers, and West Ham’s defence will receive the same barrage that they dealt with so poorly on the last four times out. Albeit, Roger Johnson won’t be leading the backline this time round, but still.
It goes without saying that every one of our defenders has to play to their best to ensure Man City’s potent forces upfront don’t have too many chances to kill off the game. Man City will have chances, and they will score, but if limited to just one goal then we’ve done half the job already. It will be particularly interesting to see if Jenkinson and Cresswell, so impressive going forward, can prove themselves as well-rounded full-backs in a game where they certainly need to be.
For West Ham’s creative forces, the job is simple: take your chances. With Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho both in excellent scoring form, it’s certainly not too much to ask.
West Ham have already played one Manchester side this season; the loss on that occasion was down to a dreadful opening 25 minutes and the inability to finish our chances. Amend those two errors today, and the Hammers have a decent chance of pulling off something special.
Three things to look out for:
Enner’s turn. All the talk and praise has been for Diafra Sakho in this early part of the season, which means defenders may finally have to start paying more attention to him. While it will be a good chance to see what Sakho is really capable of, it could also give Valencia more time and space around the box if City’s defenders are primarily focused on his strike partner.
Stamina. Man City come into this game on the back of a draining trip to Moscow. There will undoubtedly be tired legs towards the latter stages of the game and this should be the prime time for West Ham to target any slip-ups.
Adrian. The popular Spaniard has come under a fair amount of criticism already this season; a big performance today would go a long way to dealing with that. Adrian was phenomenal in a similarly tricky tie against Chelsea in January, and he’s going to need to be in top form again today to shut City out.
Kick-off is at 12.45pm. Come on you Irons.