Who: West Ham vs Manchester City
When: Saturday, August 10th @ 7:30am ET on NBC Sports
Where: London Stadium
Line: West Ham +1100| Draw +550 | Man City -435
The 2019-20 Premier League season kicks off tomorrow. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City aims to do the threepeat this time, something they’ve never achieved in their pre-21st-century history (which wasn’t much to speak of, in fairness). Who said oil money can’t build a legacy?
However, their title defence isn’t starting with an easy fixture. Former manager Manuel Pellegrini stands in their way, with West Ham United ready take down the champions. The Hammers have themselves made impressive summer signings and will not at all back down without a fight. If City wants a win on opening weekend, they’ll have to produce their absolute best to get it done.
West Ham United likely XI:
Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku, Rice, Noble, Fornals, Lanzini, Anderson, Haller.
West Ham United’s big-money signing Sebastien Haller is expected to make his much-anticipated Premier League bow against the champions. Exciting Spaniard Pablo Fornals should also be involved, as both players are going to be crucial towards spicing up their attacking rhythm. New striker Albian Ajeti, meanwhile, is not expected to feature after being signed on deadline day.
Manchester City likely XI:
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri, Gundogan, B.Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero.
Manchester City’s newest signing Joao Cancelo is unlikely to feature after having arrived in England very recently. Their record-midfielder Rodri is set to make his Premier League debut after impressing in the Community Shield game. Sergio Aguero and Ederson, both who were on the bench on Sunday, should be in contention for starting while Fernandinho is still not quite match-fit.
West Ham United vs Manchester City preview
While this isn’t exactly a David & Goliath match-up, West Ham really needs to chug hard to reach City’s level. Pellegrini’s created a competitive squad with quality acquisitions, but his team isn’t perfectly gelled together like City. Guardiola’s side knows every little detail of each other’s strengths, making them even scarier to face.
For the Spaniard, the record-breaking deal just never ends since he arrived at England. He’ll become the first foreign manager to win the Premier League thrice in a row (Jose Mourinho did it twice consecutively) if he manages to repeat the feat this time around. However, for me, their defence could cause internal problems in their game this season.
Inability to replace Vincent Kompany could lead to defensive hiccups. However, to me, City are just too strong going forward to be fazed defensively. Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva are already looking unstoppable as their creative midfield core. Sergio Aguero along with Raheem Sterling’s goal-scoring phenomenon will blow away West Ham as well as others going forward.
Manuel Pellegrini has done well to keep his core, even though it’s meant to sell striker Marko Arnautovic. He’s implemented an exciting, fast-paced attacking style which sees West Ham create beautiful goals, but doing so against City is difficult.
Of course, new signing Haller will have every fan’s attention with his incredible physical attributes making him a menace in the box. Along with Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson tormenting defences with their clever movement as well as clinical work going forward, I think the Hammers could end up causing multiple headaches for City.
As much I’d love to say the champions are suffering a shock, I just can’t see it happening. City are just too strong right now. Even though West Ham’s attack could trouble them, their attacking force should consolidate an emphatic victory to start the title defence.