It’s easy to be positive about West Ham’s prospects for the season – albeit not necessarily for this game.
Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller are both excellent additions for West Ham. Fornals is only 23 and did well in a Villarreal side that struggled to get results at times last season. Attacking through the middle or from wider he will help improve West Ham’s attack. He also had a great summer scoring 2 goals and an assist as Spain won the EURO U21s.
There’s plenty of reason to be excited about Haller. He got 15 goals and nine assists in only 2,181 minutes in the Bundesliga last season – which means he was directly involved in a goal every 90 minutes. His team mate at Eintracht Frankfurt, Luka Jovic, who has gone to Real Madrid for £60 million, only scored 2 goals more than Haller. On top of that, Jovic’s direct goal involvement rate per minute is not was not as good as Haller’s either.
Haller is therefore worth a look each-way in the Top Goalscorer market (33/1). He’ll get very good service from Fornals, Felipe Anderson (fantastic last season: nine goals, four assists) and the fit-again Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko.
As for this weekend, there’s perhaps less room for optimism for the Hammers. Mark Noble is out and if you look at the last 7 competitive meetings between these teams Man City have scored 23 while only conceding three.
Admittedly, some of West Ham’s performances have been better than that run suggests. They frustrated City last season in the reverse fixture, a second-half Aguero penalty the difference. West Ham fans will also tell you the 4-0 defeat at home last season was “not a 4-0” and it’s true that the team did well that day. Man City. however, dominated the European Champions in the first half of the Community Shield last week and obviously West Ham are nowhere near Liverpool’s level.
Additionally, if you count friendly games (which no-one in their right mind does), during the summer Man City played West Ham in the Asia Trophy. Man City sent out an unfamiliar team and a lot of the kids whereas West Ham had a lot of recognisable names – and City still won 4-1.
It’s fair to expect City to pick up where they left off last season (14 wins in a row and nine of them by at least two goals) and win this game comfortably. Most goals come in second half of games but Man City are different to anything we have seen before. For the most part, they play the same way regardless of the minute of the match or the score. They are relentless in their pressing and attacking of teams from start to finish.
This is why in 24 of their 38 League matches last season, Man City Half-time/Man City Full-time (8/11 this time) clicked. That’s our number one tip for this game and is often a way of getting more value out of a Man City side that are odds-on to be odds-on in nearly every game they play this season.
If you want a goalscorer tip for this match then it’s worth checking up on Man City’s team news first. Sane’s serious knee injury rules him out for Man City and also a transfer to Bayern Munch for now at least. This means Sterling should revert from the false nine position he had against Liverpool last week to the left of a front three.
That means you can expect either Aguero or Gabriel Jesus to start. There is currently a bit more value in Jesus to be First Goalscorer (16/5).
He did not always convert the excellent chances presented to him last season – only seven goals scored off an xG of 12.62 – but he did get his mojo back for Brazil over the summer, getting two goals and two assists leading the line and Brazil’s charge to tournament success on home soil. His confidence will be high and the value bet if he starts against West Ham.