Here it is Blues, following a summer of limited football and dross television *cough Love Island * cough, the first of game of the 2019/20 Premier League season is finally upon us and we begin our next defence of the Premier League title in East London as Pep Guardiola’s champions take on Manuel Pellegrini’s men at the London Stadium.
After defeating Liverpool at Wembley to retain the Community Shield, City will want to hit the ground running in the forthcoming Premier League season and will be aiming to leave London with nothing less than three points. Registering a strong start to the season is key for City as the blues face a new-look Spurs side in their first home game, and will want to find form early in the hope of avoiding a potential early slip-up.
In recent years, Manchester City has established a very good record against West Ham, having defeated The Irons in the previous eight competitive meetings between the clubs, and the blues will be hoping to continue this trend on Saturday. Alike City, West Ham have strengthened over the summer, most notably with the addition of club-record signing Sébastien Haller. The Frenchman, who registered 24 goal contributions in 29 Bundesliga matches last season, could be just the prolific forward the Hammers have been seeking for years.
City’s most notable new signings Rodri and João Cancelo will both be looking to make their first Premier League appearance against West Ham, however, the latter is unlikely to feature considering he joined the club just days before the start of the Premier League season. City’s first-choice goalkeeper Ederson is likely to return to the fold, despite Claudio Bravo’s excellent performance in the Community Shield and the Brazilian will be hoping to begin the season with a clean sheet.
In other team news, Fernandinho is unlikely to feature as the Brazilian missed the entirety of pre-season after picking up an injury playing in the Copa America. Fernandinho returned to training on Monday, however, having only just returned to fitness, Dinho’ is likely to miss out and new signing Rodri is likely to retain his position in the City starting XI. Centre back Aymeric Laporte returned to training on Wednesday after picking up a knock in pre-season and should return to the side if deemed fit, however, his compatriot Benjamin Mendy remains out of action and isn’t expected to return for some time.
West Ham finished the previous campaign strongly and emerged victorious in their final three fixtures, The Irons are one of the most underrated sides in the Premier League and possess strong defensive options in Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna whilst also having creative flair in attack with Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson. The Hammers also have an experienced, successful manager in the form of former City boss Manuel Pellegrini and the London club will be looking to push for a European spot in the forthcoming Premier League season.
For the second consecutive season, City kick-off their title defence in the capital and will be aware that West Ham’s home form in the 2018/19 campaign was very impressive. The Irons were only defeated six times at the London Stadium and picked up wins against top-six sides Arsenal and Manchester United, whilst in February the Hammers also notably earned a draw against then-league leaders Liverpool.
Manchester City’s defence looked worryingly vulnerable against Liverpool and if it wasn’t for Claudio Bravo and Kyle Walker’s Wembley heroics, City would have surely left London empty-handed. Pellegrini’s attacking philosophy combined with the talented forwards that the Hammers possess means that West Ham are not a team that will sit back and invite pressure like so many teams do against the blues, and that City’s backline will be pressured and challenged at the London Stadium.
Although West Ham finished the previous season well and have since strengthened their squad, the difference in class between the two sides is evident and the blues are expected to win the game comfortably. City’s attacking proficiency should be too much for West Ham to handle and any result other than a City victory will be deemed a disappointing and a poor start to the season.
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