In-form Man City set to brush off West Ham
Seeking to take advantage of one of their precious games in hand, reigning Premier League champions, Manchester City, welcome West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.
At the time of writing, the Citizens sit at the top of the table, while the Hammers are languishing in 15th place and remain in danger of relegation.
Another game and another record broken by ErlingBrautHaaland who scored his 50th goal of the season to help Man City beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday, becoming the first English top-flight player to reach half a century of goals across all competitions in 92 years.
City’s Norwegian No.9 now has 34 Premier League goals to his name and is just one goal away from breaking the all-time scoring record for a single season in the division which is currently held by both Andy Cole and Alan Shearer (34).
Haaland’s penalty inside the opening three minutes was somewhat overshadowed by the stunning strike from Julian Alvarez that turned out to be the match-winner for the Citizens, extending their winning run in the Premier League to eight matches and moving them above title rivals, Arsenal, to the top of the table for the first time in 72 days.
Pep Guardiola’s side, who will have two games in hand after the Gunners face Chelsea on Tuesday, have been unstoppable of late on all fronts, particularly in the Premier League, although defensive frailties have been evident in the last few months having kept only two clean sheets in their last 12 top-flight matches. Overall, the Citizens have only kept a clean sheet in 31 per cent of their league fixtures (10 out of 32 games) so far this season.
Nevertheless, Man City’s exceptional form in front of goal has helped them to outscore opponents on a consistent basis, and they will be confident of securing another three points on Wednesday versus a West Ham side against whom they are unbeaten in 14 top-flight matches, winning 11 in the process including a 2-0 success at the London Stadium back in August.
The Citizens, who have won their last six meetings with the Hammers at the Etihad, currently boast the best home record in the Premier League having accumulated 43 points from a possible 48 available, while they have won each of their last 24 top-flight games played on a Wednesday – the longest winning run by any team on a specific day in the division’s history.
Less than a week after securing a confidence-boosting 4-0 victory away against Bournemouth, West Ham are back down in the dumps following back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Crystal Palace.
A 2-1 home loss to Liverpool last Wednesday – a game in which manager David Moyes was left frustrated and “disrespected” by VAR – was followed by a 4-3 defeat away to Crystal Palace last Saturday, with goals from Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio and NayefAguerd to no avail.
West Ham were ahead in both games against Liverpool and Palace but came away empty handed, and they remain embroiled in a relegation scrap heading into the final six games of the Premier League campaign as they sit five points above the bottom three.
Moyes and co now embark on a challenging and important period in their season, with Wednesday’s trip to Man City followed by a home clash with Manchester United next weekend, and then the first leg off their Europa Conference League semi-final at home to AZ Alkmaar in just over a weeks’ time.
Returning to winning ways on Wednesday will be a tall order for the Hammers considering they have picked up just four points from their last 16 Premier League encounters with Man City – their only victory in this period was at the Etihad Stadium though, with goals from Victor Moses and DiafraSakho securing a 2-1 win in September 2015. –SportsMole