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Manchester City’s competitive vision has been virtually perfect this year as they seek a twentieth straight win when they host West Ham tomorrow.
It should be a reasonably competitive match as the Hammers currently sit in 4th place and in a position to earn a spot in Europe next season.
They’re still well behind the leader’s City though who are 14 points clear of the Hammers in the standings.
City’s been one of the best without some key additions, but now Pep Guardiola has his entire team virtually healthy.
Kevin De Bruyne is 100% and likely to draw into the midfield alongside Ilkay Gundogan.
Nathan Ake is in contention to play, but it’s unlikely he will because of how strong the defence has been without him.
Sergio Aguero made a brief appearance in mid-week and showed no signs of any significant problems.
For David Moyes, his side is relatively healthy as well during a critical juncture.
The London outfit will likely be without defenders Arthur Masuaku and wide midfielder Andriy Yarmalenko who are recovering from injuries.
Ryan Fredericks is the only other question mark with a groin strain.
Stride for Stride
If there’s a Premier League that can hold a candle to what City’s achieved this year, it’s West Ham.
They aren’t shattering records like Man City, but they’ve quietly put themselves in a strong position in the league table.
Currently sitting fourth with 45 points, the Hammers are only four points behind Leicester City and Manchester United.
David Moyes side has earned 22 points in 2021, second only to Man City, who have 33.
Consistency has been the name of the game for the Hammers, who’ve only lost back to back EPL fixtures once this season. They’re longest winless run in the Premier League this season is two games.
They don’t have the long winning run of City, but just like a good cyclist, they’ve been able to stay with the pack all season long.
The last time these teams met, they kept pace, and the Hammers drew 1-1 with City back in late October. Michail Antonio put the Hammers in front before Phil Foden equalised in the second half.
Third times a charm?
Man City could record another rare feat with a win tomorrow.
A 14th consecutive top-flight victory for City would be the third time they’ve achieved that mark.
If they can do it, they’ll become just the sixth side in English top-flight history to do so.
In the first 118 years of top-flight football in England, only Arsenal in 2002 had won 14 straight league matches.
Since then, Man City and Liverpool have each done it twice.
It’s safe to say Manchester City has cleaned up their act after a rough beginning to this Premier League campaign.
One area they’ve been especially good at lately is their play at the Etihad.
Since losing 5-2 to Leicester City in their second league game City’s improved by leaps and bounds on home soil.
In their last 15 home fixtures in all competitions, the Citizens have conceded just three times.
They’ve won their last six Premier League home games without conceding, a feat that no top-flight English side has done in over a decade. Chelsea had a nine-game run without conceding at Stamford Bridge from April-November 2010.
West Ham’s past visits to the Etihad have not been especially memorable.
The Hammers have won only two of their last 23 Premier League away games to Man City.
Striking down the Hammers
Raheem Sterling seems to enjoy facing West Ham.
City’s striker has six goals in his last six competitive matches versus the Hammers, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win in August 2019.
Making an Impact
So far the addition of Jesse Lingard has had a major impact on David Moyes’ side.
The Man United loanee has rejuvenated his career with the Hammers after mostly warming the bench at Old Trafford.
In four matches with the Hammers, the 28-year-old has three goals including the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Tottenham last weekend.
His current deal earns him an estimated £100 grande-a-week and he’s earned every penny of it for the Londoners so far.
Ahead of tomorrow’s clash, City boss Pep Guardiola says he expects it to be a struggle out there.
“It will be a really tough game tomorrow, really tight. They are a good team.
“After I don’t know how many games we played, they are in a Champions League position. That is not a good run, that’s many months, and they are there.
“The rhythm they play is better now than other seasons.
“Antonio is always a headache for his movements – he is dangerous.
“David Moyes, I admire these kinds of people. Like Roy Hodgson – they have long careers. I would love these kinds of careers.”
Tomorrow’s match from Etihad stadium kicks off at 12:30 pm. (JSL).