Despite Juventus being defeated finalists last season, it was still something of a shock for Manchester City to lose 2-1 mid-week. The Citizens have yet to concede in the league and look invincible on current form (although admittedly they made hard work of a visit to Selhurst Park last weekend). The Irons are going to have to be at the top of their game to get a result out of the Etihad, but with their fine start to the season it isn’t impossible to imagine. FLIP Sports expects a City victory, but they will be made to fight for it.
A source of much derision from opposition fans last season, Mangala has improved beyond all recognition. No longer an expensive mistake, the young Frenchman is a big part of City’s immaculate start. Mangala has played every minute in the league so far, with a passing success rate of 86.4% helping to keep his team ticking over. West Ham are going to struggle to score here and will have to attack with pace and verve to try and drag the centre-backs out of position. Much, much easier said than done!
With the departure of Kevin Nolan, West Ham’s heir apparent has taken up the captain’s armband with aplomb. Noble has been a favourite of Hammers’ fans for years, and has rewarded that faith with 2 goals from midfield so far. He will be required to be more defensive in this match, shackling players like David Silva in an attempt to cut off service to Aguero or Bony. The problem is that City have invested well in Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne, making it much more difficult to identify where their next attack is coming from. West Ham will need every ounce of Noble’s experience and nous to keep a clean sheet at the Etihad.
The writers at FLIP Sports HQ are going to go out on a limb and say that if Aguero stays fit, City will win the title. The Argentinian is arguably the best player in the league and can score goals out of nothing. He may have only scored once so far, but the goal in question was an excellent one. When he was injured by a strong challenge against Crystal Palace, City fans all over the country held their breath—Bony hasn’t been good enough thus far in his time at the Etihad to be an adequate replacement. Aguero managed to make a cameo against Juventus though, and will probably be fit to start this game.
This weeks honourable mention goes to Raheem Sterling. The young man may have been pricey, but his pace and skill gives his team a genuine wide option and stretches defences. Don’t judge him on his goals and assists alone—he will create all sorts of space for Silva and Aguero if he keeps playing well.