Five Talking Points - Manchester City



The hot topics for discussion ahead of West Ham United's Premier League Super Sunday fixture at Pep Guardiola's Manchester City...
Pep talk

This summer, three of English football’s top five clubs changed their manager in a bid to regain their place at the top of the domestic – and European – game.

Leicester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur ended last season as an unlikely top three, while Manchester City edged out rivals United for the final UEFA Champions League spot, and Chelsea languished down in 12th.

United brought in Jose Mourinho, Chelsea moved for Italy coach Antonio Conte, while City completed their appointment of former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola.

The Spaniard’s biggest decision so far, according to the British media, has been to jettison England’s No1 Joe Hart, but in truth Pep’s Etihad Stadium revolution will be far more wide-reaching.

Guardiola was, arguably, the greatest exponent of the tiki-taka style which carried Barca and Spain to unprecedented success over the last decade.

Already, City are showing signs of bringing tiki-taka to English football, with mobile, diminutive attackers and midfielders interchanging at will, full-backs operating as wingers and ball-playing defenders (and goalkeepers) playing fluid football that is not only easy on the eye, but highly effective.

It is early days, but two Premier League wins out of two and a Champions League thumping of Steaua Bucharest suggest Guardiola’s impact in the blue half of Manchester is going to be a successful one.
Spanish clash

Adrian will make his first West Ham United appearance since being called into the Spain squad for the first time on Friday.

In doing so, the 29-year-old will seek to ruin the day or not one, but two of his fellow countrymen.

With his confidence boosted by his international call-up, what price Adrian becoming the first goalkeeper to stop Pep Guardiola’s side scoring this season by making a series of saves from new Spain squad-mate David Silva?

Both tasks will be hugely difficult, but Adrian was part of the Hammers side which halted Manchester City’s perfect start to last season.
Calleri’s chance?

With Simone Zaza arriving on Sunday morning, too late to feature at Manchester City on Sunday, fellow striker Jonathan Calleri is likely to be handed another chance from the kick-off.

Slaven Bilic’s Argentine loan signing has had a rollercoaster start to his West Ham career, showing fine touches and making intelligent runs in behind, only to miss two gilt-edged chances in the UEFA Europa League defeat by Astra Giurgiu.

With Zaza signed and others returning from injury, Calleri will want to start taking those chances if he is to retain his starting place.


Fletch on familiar turf

Another striker who was involved against Astra, Ashley Fletcher, will have plenty of motivation should he get onto the Etihad Stadium pitch.

A former Manchester United player and self-confessed supporter, Fletcher was involved in many derby battles with City during his time with the Red Devils – including scoring in a 4-0 U21 Premier League win in May 2015.

“I’m a United fan and I want to go back there and beat them,” he said in a pre-match interview. West Ham supporters may not share his love for the men from Salford, but they will certainly share his sentiment about Sunday’s game.
The window’s still open…

The transfer window will slam shut (Why does it always ‘slam’? Have you ever slammed a window shut?) on Wednesday.

West Ham have already been VERY active this summer, spending more than £60m on eleven different players.

However, with some fringe players being strongly tipped to leave the Club in the next few days, there is an increasingly likelihood that eleven will become 12, 13 or even more before Jim White finally quietens down.

A right-back appears to be priority for Slaven Bilic, with Sam Byram the only senior player available to him in that position.

Elsewhere, departures will dictate any other signings, but the message over the next few evenings is very much ‘don’t go to bed’!