WEST HAM UTD v MAN CITY – City to shed ‘Out of Manchester’ malaise

When Big Fat Sam grabbed three juicy, but totally unexpected points at White Hart Lane, he did Manchester City a double favour.

Mr Allardyce – to be a tad more respectful – not only hammered Tottenham’s not so hot spurs before the international break, therefore depriving City’s rivals of vital points, he also put Manuel Pellegrini on the Mancunian equivalent of DEFCON 1 – Maximum Alert.

Pointing the way - Pellegrini needs to get City back to winning away from home

Pointing the way – Pellegrini needs to get City back to winning away from home

Prior to West Ham’s shock victory – topped off by Ravel Morrison’s wonder goal – the Eastenders had notched just one win in six, and that was achieved on the opening day of the season.

No doubt that Pellegrini will have approached the trip to Upton Park as a consummate professional and will have City fully focused. That said it didn’t work when City went away to Cardiff and Villa and, at least now, Pellegrini is well aware of West Ham’s capabilities.

The Londoners are not dissimilar to Villa as far as City are concerned. It has nothing to do with their playing colours of claret and light blue – but more so their recent head-to-head Premier League record against the Sky Blues.

Villa fans readily admit that City are a bogey side, but it’s just the same with the ‘East Larndan’ team. The Irons have won just one of the last 12 PL encounters, the solitary victory coming in March 2009, when City went down 1-0 in the capital.

Bad Kompany - City will be missing their Belgian boulder in defence

Bad Kompany – City will be missing their Belgian boulder in defence

West Ham go into tonight’s game wanting to avoid a third straight home PL defeat – the same situation as Villa, before the A-grade Brummies, pulled off that startling 3-2 win in late September.

United have under achieved at home, losing to Stoke and Everton since beating Cardiff 2-0 in August. Conversely, City’s away form is even worse, garnering one out of nine points from visits to two of the same teams – Cardiff and Stoke, plus the ignominious showing at Villa.

Pellegrini has already pinpointed road trips as City’s Achilles Heel this season, so the next four fixtures – all away from the Etihad – will be a big influence on the fortunes of the Sky Blues.

CSKA Moscow, Chelsea and Newcastle United await after today and, with Champions League progression clearly a Pellegrini priority, it is nonetheless essential that City stay firmly focused on the PL.

Back-to-back wins over the Russians this Wednesday and November 5th would virtually ensure City a place in the CL knockout phase next February with games – at home to Plzen and away to Bayern Munich – still to play.

Silva is gold - City's Spanish playmaker is returning to his best form

Silva is gold – City’s Spanish playmaker is returning to his best form

To have qualified after just two-thirds of the Group Stages would be manna from heaven after the recent disappointments of the CL, but it’s implausible to imagine City lifting European football’s top prize in Lisbon next May.

Pragmatically, they are far more likely to be winning their second PL title in three years, but will only do so by not falling short in eminently winnable games such as today.

City must return to the habit of taking maximum points away from home. That objective will not be helped by the absence of injured skipper Vincent Kompany and the non-appearance of new signing Martin Demichelis.

The Argentine veteran, purchased as emergency back-up for ‘Kaptain Kompany’, managed a 45-minute run out for City’s EDS side in midweek but is still ring rusty for the rigours of the top flight.

Outstanding Alvaro - Negredo is netting regularly for both club and country

Outstanding Alvaro – Negredo is netting regularly for both club and country

Pellegrini’s probable selection will be Joleon Lescott, who put in a stellar performance following his recall against Everton, and Matija Nastasic in central of defence.

Scoring goals has been West Ham’s weakness, with a not-so magnificent seven in seven games, contrasting with City’s 17, making the men from Manchester the PL top scorers.

A decidedly stingy defence is the strength of Allardyce’s side, surrendering just five goals. James Collins will be absent from the West Ham rearguard after a midweek injury with Wales, so Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo will be keen to take up where they left off, before their international commitments with Argentina and Spain.

David Silva’s return, along with an enhanced attacking emphasis, are the positives in City’s slightly stuttering start to the season, so it comes as a surprise to find out that it’s the Hammer’s Mark Noble who has created the most goal-scoring chances (17) in the PL.

City must ensure Noble’s efforts go unrewarded and that his goal-shy team mates continue to be just that! The ongoing absence of Andy Carroll can only be of benefit to City but, the same was said when Villa’s Christian Benteke was absent – and City still lost.

Super Sergio - Aguero has scored in 30 PL games - City have not lost any, winning 28 & drawing 2

Super Sergio – Aguero has scored in 30 PL games – City have not lost any, winning 28 & drawing 2

The visitors should be onto a good thing if Sergio can grab a goal during proceedings. Thus far when Aguero scores in the PL City haven’t lost – 28 wins & 2 draws – but a third away defeat, this early in the season, would be very damaging to both City’s and Pellegrini’s credibility.

City need to shut-up shop at the back and return to being PL Scrooges, conceding the least amount of goals for each of the past three seasons.

World Cup hopes - Micah and Joleon want to be playing for City & England this season

World Cup hopes – Micah and Joleon want to be playing for City & England this season

As well as Lescott, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell may also feature– all three having missed out on international duty. The trio will all want to catch Roy Hodgson’s eye to press their World Cup claims.The match could revolve around two African influences; Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure for City and Senegal’s Mohammad Diame for West Ham.  Whoever can take midfield control should hold the key to victory.

Leader of the Pack - Yaya could be the key to a City win today

Leader of the Pack – Yaya could be the key to a City win today

In form and the stand-in skipper, Yaya, with half-a-dozen goals scored this season, must lead by example and shake City out of their awayday daze if they are to hammer home their title credentials.

 

 By David Walker  www.readbutneverred.com @djwskyblu

 

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16 Comments

  1. October 19, 2013  7:43 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Excellent read once again and today's performance will be a decider in the race for the top
    MCFC FOREVER BLUE

    • October 19, 2013  7:47 am by David Walker Reply

      It'll certainly help influence matters. It won't be easy - of course not - but if City have title ambitions we have to start winning these types of matches. Thanks again Eileen.

  2. October 19, 2013  9:12 am by Grant Mills Reply

    Another great read. Nothing less than 3 points is a must today

    • October 19, 2013  9:48 am by DAVID WALKER Reply

      Totally agree...unless we're 2-0 down with a minute to play - then I'll take a point!

  3. October 19, 2013  9:25 am by Graham Ward Reply

    A good preview for a tricky game. A pity about Kompany, but prehaps the captain's return will be in midweek in Moscow, although given the mystery about the venue, that can't be certain.
    First things first, West Ham. We have to be looking to get that elusive first PL away win.

    • October 19, 2013  9:50 am by DAVID WALKER Reply

      It shouldn't have been this difficult given the away fixtures we've had thus far - much much harder still to come. Cheers Graham.

  4. October 19, 2013  10:21 am by carol main Reply

    thanks Davy fantastic read as always, you know I cant do all that cerebral "should have played in 4-4-2....hes out of position...he'll never be a true left back.." stuff when it comes to City, I get too giddy so I rely on you, you do it so well. which just leaves me with "c'mon blues make em have it"

    • October 19, 2013  3:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      Ha ha - my dear old Dad used have a great phrase about me when I was a kid - he used to: "You're alright - you've got me. All I've got is you..."

      Shades of that in your comment. If you're relying on me I'd have to quote Private Fraser from Dad's Army : "We're doomed...DOOMED!"

  5. October 19, 2013  10:37 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    Great stuff again David like you say a must win today think it will give our PL season a good kick in the right direction #TrustOurMP

    • October 19, 2013  3:49 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Andy - I'm slipping in my old age I forgot the old strapline #TrustOurMP - nice of you to remind me.

  6. October 19, 2013  10:39 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    We were talking about Alladyce at work recently, he knows how to make his teams very hard to beat and isn't just the long ball merchant he's made out to be.

    Hopefully City aren't slipping in to mental thought process that away games are something to be feared!

    We shall know soon enough!

    • October 19, 2013  3:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      Irrespective of mental attitude - this is a game that City have every expectation of winning - bloomin' hope so!

  7. October 19, 2013  10:48 am by Anthony Catterson Reply

    Just got to turn the dial down a bit more often from attack to defence David. Would also help if the forwards increased theirs goals/chances ratio. 1-3

    • October 19, 2013  3:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      We definitely need to tighten up at the back but the constant churn in defensive personnel hasn't helped. We'll more than likely still have the best defence in the PL come season's end. If we also have the best attack there's every expectation that we will be Simply The Best #MCFCPLCHAMPIONS2014.

  8. October 19, 2013  4:15 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Well up to your usual standard Dave. Must admit are away form in prem is a problem I know away at villa was a freak result but we should been out of site by half time. Its not all down to bad defending the forwards need to put the chances away early on to try & kill the game. Having had my say I hope its 3 pts for the blues & as a wise man once told me #TrustOurMP.

    • October 19, 2013  4:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      A win will keep up us in touch with Arsenal, Chelsea & Liverpool & allow us to open a bigger points gap over Manure. Let's hope the trust in Manuel Pellegrini is well placed.

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