Tuesday 18 Feb
Updated Wednesday 19 Feb 17:11
Preview

Five things to look out for on Wednesday

1. West Ham can jump out of the bottom three

Declan Rice in action against Manchester City

 

With none of the six teams above, or two clubs below, them in the Premier League table winning, results went West Ham United's way during the fortnight-long 'Winter Break' gameweek.

Indeed, while the Hammers will kick-off inside the bottom three at the Etihad Stadium, a victory over Manchester City would see David Moyes' side rise two places, above AFC Bournemouth and Aston Villa, into 16th position. Even a draw would see the Irons jump above Villa and out of the relegation zone.

While Pep Guardiola's side will themselves kick-off in second place, a point ahead of Leicester City, and begin the game as favourites, City have lost two home league games already this season - to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United - and drawn two others - with Tottenham Hotspur and, in January, with Crystal Palace. They were also beaten 2-0 at Spurs last time out.

 

2. The Claret and Blue Army's loud and loyal support

The Claret and Blue Army at Chelsea

 

With West Ham United eager to climb the Premier League table, the loyal support of the Claret and Blue Army will be vital.

Many of the 3,000 fans who made the journey north for the original fixture, which was postponed due to Storm Ciara, will be heading back up the M1 or boarding trains bound for Manchester again on Wednesday, showing their peerless commitment to the Hammers' cause.

With the match being broadcast live by Sky Sports in the UK, anybody watching on television will undoubtedly hear the Claret and Blue Army singing loud and proud at the Etihad Stadium, as they have done at grounds up and down the country all season long.

Fans travelling to the game from London will complete a 430-mile round trip and, by the season’s end, fans attending all 19 away Premier League matches will have covered more than 2,500 miles in total.

Everyone associated with the Club will hope that loyal support is rewarded with safety come 17 May.

3. Jarrod Bowen's knack of scoring against new opponents

Jarrod Bowen scores against Fulham

 

Jarrod Bowen could be set to make his West Ham United debut at Manchester City on Wednesday – and let's hope he marks the occasion with a goal.

The 23-year-old, who arrived after two-and-a-half prolific seasons with Hull City in the EFL Championship on Deadline Day in January, has never faced the reigning Premier League champions before in his relatively short but goal-filled career.

And maybe that should worry Pep Guardiola, because Bowen has a sensational record of scoring on his first appearance against a new opponent, having done so 13 times during his spell at Hull, and once as a 17-year-old for his first club, Hereford United.

Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Brentford, Bristol City, Charlton Athletic, Fulham, Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest, Preston North End, Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Alfreton Town all fell victim to Bowen’s accurate finishing the first time he faced them.

Will Manchester City be added to that list?

4. Manuel Lanzini to draw on fond memories of September 2015

West Ham celebrate scoring at Manchester City in September 2015

 

Manager David Moyes makes no secret of the fact he is a big fan of Manuel Lanzini, and how he needs his Argentinian playmaker to find his best form to help West Ham United out of their current predicament.

The No10 did just that the last time the Hammers won at the Etihad Stadium, in September 2015, starting wide on the left in West Ham’s 2-1 Premier League victory.

Captain Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell also started that game, while Michail Antonio was introduced as a second-half substitute, and all four will likely draw on their positive memories of that success when they return to Manchester City on Wednesday evening.

5. Pablo Zabaleta's emotional Etihad swansong

Pablo Zabaleta acknowledges the Etihad Stadium

 

Wednesday's game promises to be an emotional one for Pablo Zabaleta.

With the Argentinian planning to leave English football after 12 years this summer, this weekend will likely be the full-back’s final visit to the Etihad Stadium as a professional.

A two-time Premier League title winner during nine seasons with Manchester City, the West Ham United defender remains as popular figure at the Etihad as he is at London Stadium.

A committed, whole-hearted and talented player, Zabaleta is sure to receive a warm welcome from both sets of supporters at the Etihad – and rightly so.

 

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