Manchester City v West Ham United
Wednesday, 20:00

City counting the cost?

It's one down, three to go for Manchester City, who kept their nerve through Kepa-gate to win the League Cup on Sunday afternoon. But while Pep Guardiola no doubt enjoyed striking one line from his to-do list, the victory didn't come without a cost: Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte - almost ever-presents in the league all season - were forced off and are likely to be absent for a few weeks.
There may be some heavy legs elsewhere in the squad, too, and while the likes of Leroy Sané, Riyad Mahrez and İlkay Gündoğan can all slot in without too much difficulty, there could be a few pinch points. Vincent Kompany rarely gets through two games in a week but may have to grin and bear it at centre-back with John Stones still struggling, while Gabriel Jesus' absence means that Sergio Agüero will likely continue in the XI despite playing 120 minutes at Wembley.
These are not major issues, of course, but with key matches coming up on three fronts, you imagine Guardiola will be hoping to take control of this game early, with a view to making changes in the second half. After a rare blank against Chelsea, motivation to show what they can do in the final third will not be lacking.

Key players returning for West Ham

West Ham ended a five-game winless streak at the weekend, seeing off Fulham, and the good news didn't end there. The return of Manuel Lanzini, absent since the end of last season, got pulses racing at the Olympic Stadium, and for good reason: fans will be starting to imagine a side featuring the Argentine, Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautović and Samir Nasri - plus Robert Snodgrass, Michail Antonio and Javier Hernández off the bench, perhaps - and be licking their lips.
There could also be good news in the pipeline at the other end of the pitch: both Winston Reid and Fabián Balbuena have both returned to training and should be back in contention sooner rather than later. Either would be an upgrade on Angelo Ogbonna, and there's certainly room for improvement, with just one league clean sheet in the last 10 games. Tighten up at the back and they should be looking up into the top half rather than over their shoulders.

City strong favourites

City's home record this season borders on the obscene. They've won 19 of 21 games, by an aggregate score of 81-14, and while the goals-for column has been buffed up by a couple of FA Cup walkovers, that's still a daunting statistic for any visiting side - perhaps even more so for West Ham, whose recent form in this fixture could generously be described as sketchy.
Guardiola has won all six competitive matches against the Irons, City scoring 22 goals in the process. Throw in West Ham's poor away form - one draw and no wins in five, all competitions - and you can see why the hosts are 1.17 favourites.

Irons can have a say

Those odds are too skinny for us, and it's tempting to wonder whether West Ham aren't being ever so slightly underrated. They may not win this, but they have the tools to test a side that could well be without all three members of its usual defensive triangle (Stones, Laporte, Fernandinho).
West Ham have scored on each of their last three visits to the Etihad in the league, and we like their chances of at least contributing to an exciting match here. City to win with both teams scoring can be backed at 2.38 using the Same Game Multi tool on the Sportsbook.

Sané the man to watch

Given that he only played half an hour at the weekend, there's a good chance Leroy Sanéwill start this game. If he does, he looks a good pick in the goalscorer market, given he usually enjoys playing West Ham. He has three in his last two outings against the Hammers and is 1.91 to notch again.
Back Man City to win and both teams to score at 2.38 (Sportsbook)

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