West Ham UnitedWest Ham United have teamed up with football stats website WhoScored.com to preview Sunday’s Barclay’s Premier League meeting with Manchester City.
The Citizens are in danger of slipping out of the top four following a poor run of results, albeit with their worst results coming away from the Etihad Stadium. Sam Allardyce’s side secured a memorable 2-1 win over City when the two teams met in east London in October and a similar performance will go a long way to securing points from Sunday’s early kick-off.
While City have underwhelmed of late, they are still scoring goals, having netted six in their last three league games. One player who may endure a busy afternoon in Manchester is goalkeeper Adrián. The Spaniard has impressed for the Hammers this season, with his WhoScored.com rating (6.76) ranking seventh of the 21 goalkeepers to make at least ten starts in the Premier League this season.
Adrián has performed admirably since moving to West Ham, with the defence profiting from his form. The 28-year-old’s reflexes has seen him develop a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘shot stopping’ and this aspect of his game will likely be tested against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
City, meanwhile, have developed a strength of ‘creating long shot opportunities’. Should the Manchester side forge these chances, though, Adrián is capable of countering this threat having gained a strength of ‘saving long shots’.
If Adrián performs to the standard expected of him, City could struggle to find a way past the former Betis man. The goalkeeper’s WhoScored.com rating when the two teams met earlier this campaign (7.33) was his third highest-rated performance in the league this season. A similarly impressive showing from West Ham’s No13 will go a long way to helping the Hammers come away from the Etihad with a positive result.
*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.
Possible starting XI
Zabaleta Mangala Demichelis Clichy
Navas Silva Nasri
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has injury and form issues to attend to before he picks his starting XI for Sunday's game, meaning his chosen formation is difficult to predict.
The best guess will see Manchester City line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with three attacking midfielders supporting a centre forward in Sergio Aguero.
As is so often the case with a 4-2-3-1, the full-backs will be relied on to provide width in attack, and City have two forward-thinking players in those positions.
City might have lost their last four away matches in all competitions, but Pellegrini knows his side are an altogether tougher proposition on home turf. For that reason, the Chilean may opt for a more open, attacking 4-4-2 system.
The playing style
They might not be the same team they were last season, but Manchester City are still a formidable group of expensively-assembled international players.
Style-wise, City play a short passing game and try to control possession inside the opposition's half. With skilful attacking midfielders capable of picking passes and making clever runs to create space, City will attempt plenty of through balls to thread their way through the defence.
It is defensively where City have had their issues this season, with individual and collective errors costing them dear at vital times. With Vincent Kompany likely missing from the heart of the defence, the home side can be got at, but West Ham will have to stop them at the other end first.
Like West Ham, Manchester City have got injury problems ahead of Sunday's game. Captain Kompany went for a midweek scan after hurting his thigh against Manchester United last weekend. James Milner (knee) was also injured in the same game, which ended in a 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Ivory Coast striker Wilfired Bony (ankle) is reportedly doubtful, while Montenegro striker Stevan Jovetic is struggling with a muscle problem.
While Pellegrini will have to adapt to those absences, it is not as if Manchester City are short of options.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart will start between the sticks. Tall and athletic, Hart is a brave goalkeeper who also distributes the ball quickly and accurately.
At full-back, Zabaleta and Clichy will get up and down their respective wings with abandon. Zabaleta is perhaps a bigger threat going forward and is a more rugged defender, while Clichy is quick and possesses good ability in possession.
Centre-halves Martin Demichelis and Elaquim Mangala are both internationals, with Argentina and France respectively. Mangala is quick and physical, but his eagerness to win every challenge can allow him to be turned by his opposite number. Demichelis is older, more experienced and a wily defender.
In midfield, Toure is the driving force, with the all-round ability to tackle, run with the ball and pass and shoot with pace and accuracy. Alongside him, Brazilian Fernandinho is a more defensive player who uses his reading of the game to break up attacks and give the ball to his more attack-minded teammates.
In attack, every West Ham fan is aware of the ability of David Silva. The Spanish midfielder loves to get on the ball, play intricate give-and-goes and through balls and is not afraid to shoot himself, either. He will likely play in the hole and use his relationship with Sergio Aguero to create and convert chances.
In the wide areas, Nasri is a similar player to Silva and loves to cut in from the left onto his stronger right foot, while Spaniard Jesus Navas is a speedy, old-school winger who loves to burst past his full-back and cross into the penalty area.
Up front, Aguero has become Manchester City's talisman. It is tough to say what his strengths are, because he has so many! Pace, strength, mental toughness, game awareness, tight close control, elusiveness, clinical finishing... you get the picture!