Premier League: Man City Host West Ham with Eye on Top Spot


New Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will not go straight into the team for today’s clash with West Ham as Pep Guradiola’s team aim to retain top spot in this nascent season. Willy Caballero, who has played the first two league matches, is therefore expected to feature again, even though Joe Hart kept a clean sheet in the midweek Champions League play-off win over Steaua Bucharest.

Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic believes West Ham can pick themselves up after their Europa League elimination by Astra Giurgiu and prove their character by getting a result against City.

For the second year in a row, West Ham failed to make the competition’s group stage after being eliminated by Astra, following up a 1-1 draw in Bucharest with a 1-0 defeat at the London Stadium on Thursday – their first loss at their new home.

Despite the disappointment, Bilic believes his side can lift themselves and get a result from Pep Guardiola’s City, having masterminded a 2-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last season.

“We are all disappointed because it was a big blow last night,” Bilic told reporters on Friday. “But we have to pick ourselves up and show character and quality.”

Striker Kelechi Iheanacho has been cleared of serious injury after being carried off against Steaua, but captain Vincent Kompany, right-back Bacary Sagna and midfielders Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan are not yet fit.

For West Ham, Bilic has recently been without his main creative threats, Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, but hopes at least one of them will be fit to face City. Skipper Mark Noble should be available after he rested a minor knock against Astra, but fellow midfielder Havard Nordtveit is set to miss out.

City have lost only one of their last 10 Premier League meetings with West Ham on home soil (W8 D1), though it did come last time out in September 2015 (1-2).

Sergio Aguero has been involved in eight goals in his last seven Premier League matches against West Ham United (six goals, two assists). Aguero has scored 37 goals in 47 Premier League games against London teams and six in eight league apps against West Ham United.

The Argentine striker is the fourth player to score a penalty in each of the first two matchdays of a Premier League season (Duncan Ferguson in 2001/02, Frank Lampard in 2012/13 and Roberto Soldado in 2013/14). None of those players managed to continue the run into MD3.

West Ham have now scored in 15 successive Premier League matches – the longest such current run in the competition. 

Substitute Marcus Rashford scored an injury-time winner as Manchester United finally overhauled a stubborn Hull at a sodden KCOM Stadium.