Two former Upton Park strike partners come face-to-face this weekend at Maine Road, with each looking to prove their respective career decisions have been correct. Paulo Wanchope had a difficult time during his spell at West Ham, and despite a good start to his Manchester City career, he has also found it hard going in the north-west of late. Paolo di Canio, meanwhile, remains a Hammers hero, although he must continually convince himself that staying with the east London side is not damaging his chances of winning medals.
Wanchope got off to a flying start at Manchester City, scoring a hat-trick in only his second game for the club. Fans expecting a glut of goals were to be disappointed, although he did continue to find the net on occasion, and has amassed nine in all this term. However, his winner against Leicester a fortnight ago was his first goal in over three months, despite having maintained a fine 54% level of accuracy in his shots.
Di Canio has had a fairly quiet season by his own high standards. The Italian maestro has scored eight goals so far this term, compared to the 16 he managed during the last campaign, and his goals-to-shots ratio is eight percentage points down on last year's 17%. However, this remains an excellent ratio, and no-one can deny di Canio's potential to pull a quality strike out of the bag is immense.
Wanchope's passing accuracy was one of the better aspects of his game while at West Ham - although the crowd may not have realised it in their fervent booing of the big Costa Rican - and this has continued with Manchester City. His distribution rate of 62% in the opposition half is impressive, and three of his colleagues have benefited from Wanchope assists this season.
Di Canio, however, has an even better eye for the clinical pass, with six assists to his name so far. His passing accuracy in the opposition half has been four percentage points higher than Wanchope's, and the likes of Frederic Kanoute and Svetoslav Todorov can usually expect a healthy supply of decent balls from the Italian.
One of the main reasons behind the Hammers faithful's dislike of Wanchope was his propensity to stray beyond the final defender. This season, Manchester City fans have been treated to a similar sight, although having played less football this season than last, his tally of offsides has been restricted to 37.
With Wanchope likely to be on the wrong end of some abuse from the visiting fans, he may well be more keen than usual to get on the scoresheet. With West Ham still not absolutely safe from the drop, di Canio will realise that he must pull out all the stops to secure a win. The game could go either way, and surreySPORTS.com are offering 22/1 on a 2-1 home win, with Wanchope scoring the opening goal.