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Best defence meets best attack

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West Ham United vs Manchester City preview

After a week of break-in club football due to the international break, the Premier League will resume again. The competition for places in the league has been so fierce that fans are witnessing at least one top clash every week. And this week, that clash is between West Ham United and defending champions Manchester City. Guardiola’s men have started their title defence ideally by winning four on the trot.

However, they now face their strongest challenger on the road in West Ham United, who have already shown that they can go toe-to-toe with any team. David Moyes has created a perfect system where they use fast counterattacks to catch teams off guard. Their game against Brighton was a perfect example where the Hammers won 3-1 despite having 22 per cent possession and 67 per cent passing accuracy.

Both teams remain undefeated after four games and will be looking to extend their streak. Manchester City have so far adjusted fairly to life after Ilkay Gundogan and the injury of Kevin de Bruyne. Erling Haaland has started where he left off, scoring six goals in four games to become the top scorer. Meanwhile, Rodri and Phil Foden have been impeccable in midfield. Their defence has also been supreme, conceding only two goals, the least in the league. New signings such as Josko Gvardioil and Mateo Kovacic have taken to the team like a duck to water.

On the other hand, West Ham United have been impressive too. After drawing their first game, they have won three games on the run, including over Manchester United and Brighton. James Ward Prowse has been their best player, creating three assists. Jarrod Bowen has scored three goals and is also the best player in the league regarding Expected Threats (xT) from carries. Other top performers are Lucas Paqueta, who played eight through balls, the second-best in the league, and Kurt Zouma, who has made the most clearances (36).

West Ham United vs. Manchester City lineups 

West Ham United lineup 

West Ham United, across the four games, has largely played a settled squad, changing one or two players only. The battle is for the two spots in the midfield between Edson Alvarez, James Ward Prowse, and Tomas Soucek. While Ward Prowse is an automatic starter, in the last two games, Alvarez has played at the number six position. However, Moyes could choose to play the same lineup as against Brighton, which will see Said Benrahma dropping out for Soucek. In defence, Aguerd is expected to partner Kurt Zouma with Emerson and Vladimír Coufal, the fullbacks. In attack, Michale Antonio has been doing what he does best: bullying the opposition’s defence.

West Ham predicted lineup: Areola; Emerson, Aguerd, Zouma, Coufal; Alvarez; Paqueta, James Ward Prowse, Soucek, Bowen; Antonio.

Manchester City lineup 

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola has an array of superstars and has so far used them smartly, rotating them in the four games. Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, and Nathan Ake have taken turns to play in the two centre-backs. Injuries have also necessitated some of these changes, but John Stones, Jack Grealish, and Mateo Kovacic are expected to return for the game. Kovacic will definitely partner Rodri in the central midfield. Guardiola has also operated Julian Alvarez as an attacking midfielder just behind Erling Haaland with significant effect. All these tiny tactical tweaks have allowed the team to negate the impact caused by the injury to Kevin de Bruyne.

Manchester City predicted lineup: Ederson; Gvardiol, Dias, Akanji, Walker; Rodri, Kovacic; Foden, Alvarez, SIlva; Haaland 

West Ham United vs. Manchester City predictions 

For both teams, this is the hardest clash in the new season. And in a nutshell, the two teams can not be any different. While Manchester City love to have the ball for long periods, West Ham prefer to play without it instead of playing with a low block that emphasises rapid counterattacks.

It will be a challenge for both teams, and thus, the games could be defined by a few moments where either of the teams will have a chance to open the scoring. While City possesses the best attack in the league, the West Ham United back four is the best bet to stop them.

FootTheBall predicts a 1-1 draw.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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