West Ham’s eight game unbeaten streak was ended last week but they are still chasing a European spot and are unbeaten in their last eight at home. Man City, meanwhile, are favourites for the league but they’ve struggled on the road this season and this will be a significant test of their title credentials.
The Hammers record this season against the current top half is an impressive W6-D2-L2 while they’ve also taken four points from two tricky games against Chelsea and Everton. Slaven Bilic has certainly made them a tough team to beat, with just four goals conceded in their last six home games, while the signing of Dimitri Payet has given them a real threat going forward. The attack has been affected by injuries, though, and while Payet’s return has helped they are still missing Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho and six of their last nine matches have had fewer than three goals. Furthermore, last season just one of the top six scored more than once here as they beat Man City 2-1, a score they repeated when these teams met at the Etihad earlier this term.
In the past two seasons City have recorded a W6-D2-L2 record at teams that finished 6th-10th and they’ve won one and lost one at teams currently in those positions this term. That strike rate suggests their price is about right for this match, though their recent away form has been poor as they’ve struggled in front of goal. Their away matches are the lowest scoring in the league this season and they’ve found the net just five times in their last eight road trips. Furthermore, they’ve scored only one first-half away goal since the opening day of the season, with seven of nine trips since being level at the break and six finishing with fewer than three goals.
Vincent Kompany is expected to remain on the sidelines until at least the end of February and that means we are likely to see Otamendi and Demichelis continue in the heart of City’s defence. They’ve kept clean sheets in their last two matches but the two times they started together on the road this season finished in defeats at Stoke and Spurs. We certainly wouldn’t be backing City at 1.73 against a West Ham side that has tended to raise their game against the league’s biggest names and while Under 2.5 Goals has some merit the gradual return to full form and fitness of Sergio Aguero puts us off that – 14/21 away matches he’s started since 2014/15 have had at least three goals compared to 2/8 he’s missed. So we’ll stick to laying City in the match outcome markets.
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