Manchester City v West Ham: Guardiola's side to blow Hammers away again
Andrew Atherley expects the goals to flow again when City host West Ham in Sunday's late match at the Etihad...
Man City v West Ham Sunday 9 February, 16:30 Live on Sky Sports
City are coming off back-to-back defeats which, in the greater scheme of things, do not amount to much. The 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United did not stop them reaching the League Cup final and Champions League qualification is hardly threatened by last week's 2-0 loss at Tottenham in the Premier League.
Even so, having seen his side take 22 shots in those two matches without scoring, Pep Guardiola won't be keen to go into the short winter break with another disappointing result and West Ham could be the team to suffer.
City will be without Raheem Sterling after he went off with a hamstring injury at Tottenham and Oleksandr Zinchenko is suspended after last week's red card. Bernardo Silva could come into the side for Sterling, but the defensive line-up will depend on the fitness of Benjamin Mendy and Aymeric Laporte after they were unavailable last week.
Bowen poised for debut
West Ham lost 5-0 at home in the reverse fixture on the opening weekend of the season and they could be facing another hiding with their form and morale so low.
The Hammers slipped into the drop zone after last week's 3-3 home draw with relegation rivals Brighton, having lost a two-goal lead in the last 15 minutes, and they are winless in five Premier League matches since starting David Moyes' second reign with a 4-0 home win over Bournemouth.
The Brighton match looked a vital opportunity before a tough run of fixtures that starts here and takes them to Liverpool after their winter break.
One positive is that Jarrod Bowen, the deadline-day signing from Hull, is likely to make his debut at some stage and his pace on the break could cause some problems for City.
Tomas Soucek, the defensive midfielder on loan from Slavia Prague, made a promising debut last week and is set to line up again.
Moyes is still without Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere.
Hammers on the slide
City have not maintained their highest standards this season but they are still a top-class team and should be much too strong for the out-of-form visitors.
The biggest danger for Guardiola's side at this stage of the season is a lack of focus in the Premier League, given that a place in next season's Champions League is all but assured and Liverpool are uncatchable at the top.
That was arguably evident in their 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in their last home match, although it was still a rare blip as their Premier League home record is W8 D2 L2 and Palace are the only side outside the top eight to have taken anything at the Etihad.
Over the season the Hammers haven't been terrible on the road with something taken from half of their trips (W3 D3 L6) but they have lost five of their last seven away games and, possibly even worse, have lost the last six in a row when they have conceded.
City are hard to keep out at home and a decisive win is expected. The question is which option to take for decent odds. In the belief that Guardiola's side will be fired up to get back to winning ways and could strike early, and with the fragile Hammers looking ready to crack, City to win both halves at 5/6 with Betfair Sportsbook is the recommendation.
Even with this season's relative slowdown, City remain great entertainers and lead the way in the Premier League for matches with over 2.5 goals (80% overall, rising to 83% at home).
Their only matches at the Etihad with under 2.5 goals this season came against Sheffield United (currently sixth) and Wolves (eighth).
West Ham's lack of goals on the road is an issue (only bottom club Norwich have scored fewer than their 10) and that has kept their games mostly low scoring (58% under 2.5 goals away).
With West Ham's defence looking all at sea against Brighton last week, City's scoring power is likely to be the dominant influence.
The odds-against option is over 4.5 goals at2.50 and it is not out of the question.
Manchester City have won each of their last seven Premier League meetings with West Ham, scoring 23 goals and conceding just three in reply. City are2.30 off -3 on the Asian handicap for another wide-margin win.