Manchester City travel to the capital as they look to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League season against ex-manager Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.
Pellegrini still had six months left on his contract at the Etihad Stadium when City announced Pep Guardiola as their manager-to-be two-and-a-half years ago.
The Chilean says he “holds no grudges”, but would surely love to get one over on his former employers. That is a task easier said than done, though.
The champions scored fifteen goals in their last three matches before the international break and sit at the top of the league table with almost a third of the campaign in the bank already.
Meanwhile, West Ham have endured a turbulent start to their season and, having won one of their last six matches since beating Manchester United 3-1 on home soil, Saturday’s hosts sit just four points above the relegation zone.
With one of the leakiest defences in the league, The Hammers are often viewed an easy target. However, the likes of Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautović pose a deadly threat when in and around the penalty area and are not to be taken lightly.
And they may have a target to aim at, too. Although they sit top of the league, City, in particular their goalkeeper Ederson, have developed a tendency to make needless errors in vital stages of matches as of late.
When the Cityzens welcomed Southampton to the Etihad at the beginning of the month, they cruised into a two-goal lead before the Brazilian shot-stopper brought Danny Ings down in the box to gift their visitors a lifeline and then did the exact same against bitter rivals Manchester United just before the two-week hiatus.
Despite this, however, City are still the most dangerous side in the land. With Kevin De Bruyne left out of the Belgium squad that lost 5-2 to Switzerland in midweek, Man City welcome their star man back to full fitness; not to mention the free-scoring Sergio Agüero.
The Argentine has already hit double figures this season as well as laying the ball off for his teammates four times for good measure. With Raheem Sterling, David Silva and KDB behind him, expect City’s all-time leading goalscorer to add to his incredible tally once more.
KEY BATTLE – MARKO ARNAUTOVIĆ vs SERGIO AGÜERO
Usually, the key battle focuses on defender vs attacker but in West Ham have to fight fire with fire on Saturday. As they have found out on numerous occasions since Pep Guardiola’s arrival in England, sitting back won’t do West Ham any good. City will pick them off at will.
Instead, they need their star striker to be on top form. Amid rumours the Austrian forward could leave the London Stadium in January, Pellegrini has stated that his man is “happy and fully focused” on life in East London. Often blowing hot and cold, West Ham will be reliant upon Arnautović to put in a brilliant display to have any hope of getting a positive result.
City, on the other hand, are always on song. With the likes of Sterling, Sané, Mahrez and David and Bernardo Silva all in brilliant form, Agüero won’t be short of quality service and I’m expecting him to hit the back of the net yet again this weekend.