West Ham vs Man City
Defending Premier League champions Man City get thei season underway with a trip to east London in the early kick-off on Saturday. They are likely to find an obliging opponent in West Ham. Since Pep Guardiola took over as Man City boss, he has led his team to six comfortable victories in six games against the Hammers. Former Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini is in charge of the London side and he is a huge fan of attacking football. It makes West Ham exciting going forwards, but they leave plenty of gaps at the back and often leaks goals.
That is a perilous strategy when taking on a team as technically proficient as Man City. Guardiola’s men have secured the two highest Premier League points tallies of all time over the last two seasons, and they typically steamroller teams like West Ham. They could have an edge when it comes to match sharpness, as they played Liverpool in the Community Shield last weekend, and they are clearly a much better team than West Ham, so it is easy to see why they are the favourites.
West Ham lost star striker Marko Arnautovic this summer, but they spent big on Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt, and he should lead the line on Saturday. The club spent £25 million on Spanish midfielder Pablo Fornals, who should enjoy playing alongside the terrier-like Declan Rice. Jack Wilshere has also given the Hammers a boost by declaring himself fit, but captain Mark Noble is out with a dead leg.
Man City could hand Premier League debuts to new signings Rodri and Joao Cancelo, who cost £60 million apiece. They are beginning a new era after captain Vincent Kompany’s retirement, and they did not replace him this summer. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi started in the Community Shield, and it remains to be seen if Aymeric Laporte will be fit enough to replace one of them. Leroy Sané is out with a cruciate ligament injury and Riyad Mahrez is not yet ready for first-team football, so we could see Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva either side of Gabriel Jesus.
The betting sites have made Man City heavy favourites at around 1.25 (-400), so you will need to throw in some caveats to secure more value. Man City to win half-time / full-time looks interesting at 1.80 (-125) with Ladbrokes, and Man City to win and under 4.5 goals could be a great option at 1.70 (-143). Only one of their six wins against West Ham during Guardiola’s reign has seen over 4.5 goals, and the first game of the season could be a slightly cautious affair. Sterling was on target in the Community Shield and he has been lethal in front of goal recently, so he looks like a good option at 1.91 (-109) with Bet365 to score at any time in this game.