Intent to Have a Go at City
Let’s be honest, Manchester City is arguably playing the best football in all of Europe at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that David Moyes and West Ham should show up to the match scared, with no intent to get a result.
The last time the Hammers had a measuring stick game of this type, it was against current champions Liverpool back at the end of January. The 3-1 loss wasn’t so much the problem as it was the fact that Moyes’ side approached the match giving Liverpool too much respect. That still is the only league game WHU has lost in 2021. And it’s only the match the Reds have won since!
In other words, Liverpool was ripe for the taking if the Irons wanted to at least try to take them.
So there is no reason why West Ham shouldn’t try. Outside of City, the Premier League team with the most points collected in 2021 is West Ham. The worst that happens is a loss; which is expected anyways.
Spring a Trap Game
If the Hammers do set their intentions on getting points here, then they might very well be in the perfect spot to spring a trap game on Man City.
City is coming off a mid-week Champions League contest in which all of their healthy regulars played. Obviously, a team built like City is well equipped to deal with the rigours of a quick turnaround by rotating their squad. They do it every season.
While they can see the table, and Pep can give them all the pre-match talks about not underestimating WHU, in reality, Manchester City will never view the Hammers in the same way they view United or Liverpool.
If the Irons can get an early goal like they did vs Spurs, if they can use their (relatively) fresh legs to run at City rather than lay back and invite their possession and pressure then they may just catch their opponents switched off for this early match.
It will take a perfect West Ham performance and an uncharacteristically bad one from Pep Guardiola’s side to get the Irons three points here.
Create Problems for Man City’s Center Back Duo
Manchester City’s world-class centre-back duo of John Stones and Ruben Dias is the best in the Premiership. The pair have led their side to 10 clean sheets in 12 matches.
Enter Jesse Lingard, Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio. If West Ham has any chance against this stout defence their front three have to pressure the CBs constantly.
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Nobody is more well equipped to do that week in and out than Antonio—when healthy and fit. There are still some questions still abound about the centre forward’s fitness, if not health. He’s been able to play the full 90 minutes, but he has been unable to keep up his bull in a China shop pace throughout an entire match.
Jesse Lingard has been an offensive talisman for West Ham since joining and needs to keep up that pace for the Irons to have any chance. One of the things he brings to balance Antonio’s brute strength is his ability to smoothly run into channels and split defenders with the ball at his feet. Skill like that hasn’t been seen in East London since that one guy back in 2015. And he didn’t have near Lingard’s pace.
Whoever the other forward is: Jarod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, or Said Benrahma, they have to compliment Lingard and Antonio and give Stones and Dias a third threat to think about. The ability for all of the Hammers attackers to support each other and interchange positions while in attack or on the counter is key.
That’s why for this match I start Benrahma alongside Antonio and Lingard. And play three at the back, adding an extra defender to the pitch.
If a West Ham supporter can’t dream during this incredible run of form for the Hammers, when can they? David Moyes has shown he tends to approach these types of matches conservatively. But it wasn’t that long ago the Hammers went into the Etihad and came out with a win. COYI
Where to Watch
West Ham vs Manchester City TV Coverage: UK: BT Sport 1 USA: NBCSN CAN: DAZN
AUS: Optus Sport CHN: QQ Sports Live MEX: Sky HD UAE: BeIn Sports Connect