With plenty at stake at both ends of the Premier League table, we look ahead to Wednesday night’s clash at the Etihad Stadium with our Man City vs West Ham prediction and stats preview.
Man City vs West Ham: Quick Stats
- Man City are huge favourites for this encounter, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 74.7% chance of victory.
- West Ham have not won an away game against the Premier League’s reigning champions since beating Manchester United in December 2001.
- Erling Haaland is one away from setting a new record for the most goals scored in a single Premier League season.
It might not necessarily be a match that stands out on paper, but Manchester City’s hosting of West Ham on Wednesday could be momentous in several ways given its potential impact at both ends of the Premier League table and Erling Haaland’s quest for another record.
The Hammers certainly aren’t out of the woods, with their points total of 34 having them just four above the bottom three. Yet, no team since Newcastle United (37) in 2015-16 has been relegated from the Premier League with 36 or more points, so any form of positive result for David Moyes’ men would represent a massive step towards safety.
But just how realistic is that? Their record against City in the last few years is, perhaps unsurprisingly, dreadful. The champions haven’t lost to West Ham in any of their previous 14 league meetings since a 2-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in September 2015.
In fact, that solitary victory also stands out amid a similarly bleak run away to City, with the Etihad acting as the scene of 14 losses (one draw) in their past 16 visits.
Few will expect anything other than City adding another to the win column on Wednesday as they look to trade places once again with Arsenal, who brushed Chelsea aside on Tuesday.
But considering most will be taking a City victory for granted, all eyes are likely to be focused specifically on Haaland. The Norwegian equalled the record for the most Premier League goals scored in a single season on Sunday as he netted his 34th of 2022-23 from the penalty spot against Fulham.
Therefore, one more goal on Wednesday will put Haaland clear of the rest, breaking a record that’s stood since Andrew Cole netted 34 in 1993-94, with Alan Shearer repeating the feat a year later.
If Haaland does score against West Ham, he’ll also become the first Premier League player to net 22 home goals in a single campaign since Thierry Henry (2003-04). Niche, perhaps, but another reminder of just how remarkable his debut season in England has been.
Typical, then, that West Ham will be without one of their first-choice centre-backs in Kurt Zouma due to an injury sustained at the weekend.
West Ham 0-2 Manchester City: 7 August 2022 (Premier League)
Remember all that pre-season nonsense about how Haaland was overrated because he wasn’t incredible in the Community Shield? Well, it was the reverse game of this fixture on August 7 when he truly announced himself to English football.
City were 2-0 winners at the London Stadium, with Haaland getting both goals on his Premier League debut.
He opened his account from the spot, confidently slamming into the bottom-left corner after being tripped by Alphonse Areola as West Ham were given an eye-opening introduction to Haaland’s trademark off-the-ball explosiveness. That made him only the second Premier League debutant to ever win a spot-kick and convert it, the first being Alexandre Pato in April 2016.
West Ham saw Haaland’s running power again as he made it 2-0 with a cool finish from Kevin De Bruyne’s throughball, becoming the second City player in Premier League history – after Sergio Aguero – to score a debut brace.
Those goals came 21 years and 234 days after Haaland’s father, Alf-Inge, last scored in the Premier League for City against Aston Villa.
So, given Haaland enjoyed his arrival against West Ham, it would be rather fitting for him to take the goals record when the Hammers visit the Etihad.
Like a team who know what it takes to win trophies, City have hit their stride when it really matters, with Sunday’s 2-1 win at Fulham seeing them finally usurp Arsenal at the top of the table for a few days.
That was their 10th win in their past 11 league matches and their eighth in a row, form that’s quickly – well, depending on how much belief you had in Arsenal – seen them go from chasers to near-certainties for the title.
As good as they are, City aren’t perfect. They’ve conceded in nine of their previous 11 top-flight fixtures and only kept a clean sheet in 31% of their league matches (10/32), which is their poorest record since 2009-10 (29%). Similarly, 76 points at this stage of the season is eight short of their best, posted in 2017-18.
However, their goalscoring prowess generally makes up for any defensive shortcomings, particularly at home, where they have scored at least once in each of their last 30 games (totalling 100 goals) since losing to Crystal Palace 2-0 in October 2021. More recently, City have won seven on the spin at the Etihad Stadium, scoring two or more in every game.
The omens really aren’t great for West Ham.
They last won an away game against the Premier League’s reigning champions in December 2001 when they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford – they’ve since gone winless in 17 such games.
But if there’s anything that gives them a flicker, a mere glimmer of hope it’s perhaps that each of City’s last four home league losses have been to London clubs.
Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne
Of course, everyone will be watching Haaland closely as he nears Premier League history, but it’s fair to say he’d not have the haul he has without the support of De Bruyne. With that in mind, the City striker is presumably desperate for his chief supplier to be passed fit after returning to training on Tuesday.
As a pair they’ve regularly been devastating, whether its De Bruyne feeding Haaland – like in August when City won at West Ham – or the other way round, with the recent 4-1 win over Arsenal springing immediately to mind.
As Haaland offers a brutal combination of speed and physicality, City now possess the ability to either go direct or keep things intricate, and given De Bruyne’s technical majesty behind the Norwegian, they have a playmaker capable of playing either way.
Together they have combined for 10 Premier League goals this term, more than any other pairing in the division, with De Bruyne setting up Haaland eight times.
One would expect West Ham won’t be particularly adventurous, so De Bruyne’s creativity could be key to unlocking doors for Haaland.
After all, since the World Cup, the xA average of his 45 chances created – the most at the club – is 0.15, which is the highest of any City player with more than 11 key passes. He’s their greatest creative source and also consistently laying on high-value opportunities.
But he acts as a double threat as well. De Bruyne has been involved in six goals – with three assists and three goals – in his last three home league games, assisting at least once in all three.
West Ham: Nayef Aguerd
Clearly, West Ham will have their work cut out on Wednesday. Their last top-flight clean sheet away to City was during a 1-0 win at Maine Road in April 2003 with David James in goal – the chances of a shutout are somewhat remote.
The likelihood of that was made even slimmer with Zouma sustaining an injury during the chaotic 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace at the weekend, which was a game to forget for Aguerd.
He was at least partly culpable for two goals and then conceded a penalty. The Moroccan did pull one back, but the damage had already been done.
Aguerd will be desperate to make amends on Wednesday, and last week’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool showed what he is capable of, even in defeat.
The centre-back so often appeared to be in the right place at the right time, making four clearances – behind only Virgil van Dijk (seven) – and as many blocks, three more than anyone else on the pitch.
Generally, he has won plaudits for his displays at West Ham and also offers something of a threat at set-pieces. Among defenders who’ve played at least 1,000 minutes, none have a better goals frequency (0.14) per 90 minutes, while only five register more headed shots (0.54) on average.
If he does pop up with a last-gasp equaliser or winner, there’s also the potential for a new interpretation of some classic commentary – admittedly, “Aguerdddddddddd!” probably won’t work quite as well as “Agueroooooooooo!”.
Man City vs West Ham Prediction
Look away, Hammers fans. The Opta supercomputer prediction for this game unsurprisingly considers City huge favourites to win at the Etihad Stadium (74.7%), with West Ham given just an 8.4% chance of winning. The draw comes in at 16.9%.
So, perhaps the optimist’s way of looking at it is West Ham have a 25.3% likelihood of getting a result – or one in four. Some might take those odds as more favourable than expected.
If City do live up to expectations, victory would see them move a step closer to retaining their Premier League crown, with the supercomputer already putting their title chances at 94.2%. Even they if they were to suffer a shock defeat, it’s unlikely that figure will reduce massively.
Arsenal are the only other team the supercomputer considers able to win the title, with Newcastle United and Manchester United each given less than a 1% of even getting up to second.
At the other end of the table, as potentially precarious as things might look after Wednesday for West Ham, supporters can console themselves with the fact the model gives them just a 0.7% probability of being relegated.
Earn a commendable point at City and safety will be closer than ever.