West Ham United make the trip North to face table-topping Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, as two of the Premier League’s form sides go head-to-head in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Over the last eight games, the hosts are the only side to have earned more points than David Moyes’ side, with the Hammers picking up 19 from 24 available.
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That impressive run has seen them soar to 4th in the table, and has included wins over local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, as well as direct competitors like Aston Villa and Everton.
The Irons also rank among the better away sides in the league, losing only three of their 12 games on the road, though they haven’t scored in either of their last two in all competitions.
Good news for West Ham out of the way, now for the bad news… They’re playing Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been simply irresistible since the new year, dispatching every side put in front of them with aplom.
The Citizens are currently in the midst of a 19-game winning run (dating back to December 19th 2020) and haven’t lost since November 21st 2020.
That 26-game unbeaten streak is their second longest under Pep Guardiola and – unlike his Blues sides of the past – has been built not on attacking prowess, but instead on incredible defensive solidity.
They registered their 24th clean sheet of the season – and 19th in those 26 games – against Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday night, and have conceded less goals than they’ve kept clean sheets.
It’s thanks, in no small part, to summer signing Ruben Dias. The Portuguese centre-back joined from Benfica at the end of September and has been a virtual ever-present at the heart of their defence.
To put into context the difference he’s made; City conceded six times in three league games (2.0 per game) before his debut, compared to nine times in 22 league games since (0.41 per game).
It’s clear then that it’ll be a tough ask for West Ham to take anything away from this game, and that’s reflected in the odds. The Hammers are as high as 12/1 to leave Manchester with all three points, while their hosts are as short as ⅕ – with the draw out at 11/2.
That in turn makes betting on this game rather difficult, but not impossible.
With the prices around results not offering much appeal, I’ll be taking a look into the player cards market.
A man who hasn’t been booked but probably should have been recently is West Ham new boy Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United loanee has committed 12 fouls in his four starts for his new club, as the Hammers have looked to ‘defend from the front’.
He’s also committed five fouls in his last two visits to the Etihad Stadium, and at 13/2 (with bet365) he’s an enticing price to be booked against his old foe.