Nathan Ake’s return from an ankle problem is nothing short of a blessing for City, and the Dutchman could find himself partnered by Rodri unless Guardiola takes a punt on CJ Egan-Riley or Luke Mbete. The visitors’ bountiful options further forward means that Guardiola can afford to drop Rodri slightly deeper, with Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus both primed to return to the attack.
Seeking to move six points clear at the top of the Premier League table, Manchester City travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham United on Sunday afternoon. The Citizens thrashed Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-1 in midweek, while David Moyes’s side also won by a four-goal margin against Norwich City last time out. The Europa League dream may be over for West Ham and Moyes, but the Hammers boss witnessed his side respond to their continental heartache in perfect fashion during their trip to Carrow Road – putting four unanswered goals past an already-relegated Norwich City side.
Said Benrahma bagged a brace for himself alongside efforts from Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio in a convincing Hammers success – one which has seen them keep their top-six hopes alive heading into the final fortnight of the campaign. With Manchester United not in action this weekend, seventh-placed West Ham can move level on points with the Red Devils with victory here, and their vastly superior goal difference would see them leapfrog Ralf Rangnick’s side into the Europa League spots too. Facing Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex on the final day is hardly a walk in the park for West Ham – Man United found that out the hard way – but ending a four-game losing run in all competitions was just what the doctor ordered before the visit of the champions.
Moyes will now be tasked with ending his side’s four-game winless run at the London Stadium in all competitions, but the hosts have scored in all of their Premier League home games so far this season and may feel that attack is the best form of defence against opponents who will expect plenty of goalmouth action themselves. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne with the match ball on May 11, 2022 Perhaps reminding Pep Guardiola that he does not need a traditional centre-forward to win the biggest titles, Kevin De Bruyne sent a strong message to new arrival Erling Braut Haaland with a phenomenal four-goal haul in a 5-1 thrashing of Wolves on Wednesday.
The Belgian has now followed in Georginio Wijnaldum and Frank Lampard’s footsteps as one of only three midfielders to score four goals in a single Premier League game, and Raheem Sterling also had the simple job of tapping into an empty net late on as City’s rampage continued. While Liverpool prepare to battle Chelsea for FA Cup glory at Wembley, the reigning champions can extend their lead at the summit to six points and virtually wrap up the title with a win this weekend – breaking the 90-point barrier in the process once again. A customary top-flight crown will not mask the frustration of another Champions League elimination, but it is now five Premier League wins on the bounce for Man City, who have triumphed in all five of those encounters by at least three goals – unsurprisingly a Premier League first.
West Ham did manage to end Man City’s perennial reign of dominance in the EFL Cup earlier this term, but the champions have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Hammers in the Premier League, and the hosts would do well to take advantage of Guardiola’s defensive crisis to disrupt that pattern here. West Ham did not come out of their thrashing of Norwich unscathed by any means, as Benrahma, Craig Dawson and Antonio all had to be forced off with knocks at Carrow Road. The hosts are reportedly optimistic about Dawson and Antonio’s chances of being passed fit, but Benrahma will need further assessment, while Angelo Ogbonna remains out for the long term.
Ben Johnson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Nikola Vlasic are all on standby should Moyes be without any members of the trio, while Issa Diop should be fit enough to return to the matchday squad. The hosts suffered their own defensive crisis a few weeks ago, and now it is Guardiola’s turn to work around a raft of absentees, with Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias already out for the season. The rearguard worries did not cease for City on Wednesday, as Aymeric Laporte and makeshift centre-back Fernandinho were both forced off with knee and hamstring issues respectively, so Guardiola will be severely limited at the back this week if the duo cannot recover quickly enough.