Manchester City vs West Ham United Preview: Guardiola's side looking to maintain perfect start

Manchester City vs West Ham United Preview: Guardiola's side looking to maintain perfect start

City are up and running following back-to-back wins in their two opening games, however, Slaven Bilic's men are still looking to pick up where they left off last season.

Oscar Norman

Manchester City host West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday looking to preserve their perfect start to the new Premier League season.

The Hammers last season really announced themselves last season under new manager Slaven Bilic. Aided by the scintilating form of Dmitri Payet, they took four points off of the Sky Blues last season.

West Ham are a team that can't be underestimated and much like Stoke City have shaken the stereotype that they rely on brute force over technical ability, Payet orchestrating largely for the Irons last season. 

But City come into this tie as the favourites after opening their season with a 2-1 win at home to Sunderland and last weekend's 4-1 defeat of Stoke.

That's got life for Pep Guardiola off to a flying start and they will look to continue as such against a West Ham side who have won one and lost one, as well as being knocked out of European football in mid-week.

Team News

Manchester City 

It was smiles all round as Guardiola confirmed there were no fresh injury concerns in his pre-match press conference. 

The Blues are yet to really flex their muscles this season, despite scoring six goals in two games.

Though he put pen-to-paper to become a City player this week, Claudio Bravo will not feature in this weekend's side which perhaps grants a chance for Joe Hart to have one last hurrah.

Jubilation at the Etihad in the opening fixture - Getty Images Sport/Stu Forster
Jubilation at the Etihad in the opening fixture - Getty Images Sport/Stu Forster

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is said to be making good progress with his injury along with compatriot Leroy Sané, but this game comes too soon for the pair. 

Scares over a Kelechi Iheanacho absence have been put to rest too, the Nigerian striker reportedly suffering an injury so minor that it shouldn't affect his inclusion.

West Ham United 

Although he was absent from Thursday night's Europa League defeat to Astra Giurgiu, Hammers captain Mark Noble is expected to return to the side.

Summer signing Harvard Nordtveit is likely to miss the clash because of a foot injury. Talisman Payet and Manuel Lanzini will feature subject to a successful last minute fitness test. 

Striker Andy Carroll is out, meaning Enner Valencia could lead the line once more, while Sofiane Feghouli is also sidelined.

Manager Quotes

Pep Guardiola reacted to the news of City's Champions League draw. Barcelona being one of their group stage opponents inevitably became the centre of the questioning.

Guardiola responded admitting that it is "special" for him to go back to the club he helped to win 14 trophies in just four seasons, adding: "I was 13 years old when I went to their academy and promoted to a professional player and trainer. I spent most of my life there. I know the people there, most of the players are still there. The emotion is there."

Slaven Bilic meanwhile faced an inquest over West Ham's shock defeat at the hands of Romanian minnows Astra Giurgiu. Understandably upset by the result, he said he won't allow it to affect him or his players.

The Croatian declared that they must "pick ourselves up and show character and quality", looking ahead to the City clash by saying: "It wasn't very likely for us to win there last season as Manchester City had started great with five wins, 15 points and no goals conceded, but we did."

What to expect 

This could be City's toughest game yet under Guardiola, with West Ham capable of beating anyone on their day. City will hope that their centre-back partnership of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi can keep them a first clean sheet.

Meanwhile, the Hammers will look to bounce back from their mid-week disappointment and if Payet can return to the side, then they won't give the hosts an easy ride.