West Ham will host Manchester City this afternoon in an attempt to preserve their top-four status and can move to within one point of Manuel Pellegrini’s men should they win in Saturday’s early kick-off. City travel to Upton Park on the back of a seven-match unbeaten streak, however, and could be the hitch in Sam Allardyce’s plans which sees West Ham’s convincing start to the season come undone.
Not many will have predicted at season’s beginning that this tie would hold such tense table significance, but the east London hosts can throw a wrench in City’s plans should they be able to sustain pressure on the Premier League hierarchy
Key Players to Watch
West Ham: Diafra Sakho
Arriving from Ligue 1 over the summer as something of an understated figure, Diafra Sakho is the in-form man at Upton Park, having bagged five goals in his last five Premier League appearances.
On Saturday, the Senegalese international will face possibly his most difficult task of the campaign so far, but after bagging against Liverpool and Manchester United in recent weeks, he’s shown the ability to perform under pressure.
Sakho’s aerial threat has been of particular help to West Ham, too, as the official Premier League Twitter account depicts the striker’s scoring methods since moving to the English top flight:
While City’s unbeaten run of late seems intimidating, Pellegrini’s men have kept just two clean sheets over the course of their last 10 outings, giving Sakho some hope amidst the gloom of the upcoming storm.
It won’t be enough for Sakho to deliver alone, though. It goes without question that West Ham will need a host of their in-form players performing in order to succeed, and Stewart Downing’s success from out wide could dictate Sakho’s supply and thus how much of a threat the hosts can pose for their guests.
Manchester City: Eliaquim Mangala
It was a drawn-out affair waiting for Eliaquim Mangala to make his Premier League debut, but following his high-profile move from Porto, the centre-back isn’t perhaps living up to expectations.
The French international again showed faults in midweek and was partly responsible for allowing CSKA Moscow to claim a 2-2 draw in their Champions League clash, despite City leading 2-0 at the break.
Former Southampton attacker Matt Le Tissier and Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sports each had their questions to ask of the defender:
Vincent Kompany may have thought he’d finally come upon the elite centre-back partner he’s been yearning after for so long upon City’s signing of Mangala.
However, the 23-year-old hasn’t cemented his place as an assured Premier League defender just yet, and West Ham promise to test his resolve as one of the division’s more impressive attacking sides thus far.
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