What Man City can expect from West Ham in opening Premier League game
What shape do West Ham look going into the game and what expectations will they have?
The Hammers have had a perfectly symmetrical pre-season, winning three, losing three, scoring 12 goals and conceding 12. Pre-season left more questions than answers but the club has made moves late in the transfer window to address problem areas, signing centre back Goncalo Cardoso and striker Albian Ajeti, though neither are likely to feature on Saturday.
Expectations from the game will probably be to try and catch Manchester City cold at the start of the season and take a point off them but considering City’s record at London Stadium, where they have never lost, that’s easier said than done.
What have been the highs and lows of pre-season for them?
Highs have been the performances of midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has returned to training fully fit and looking like the player we know he can be. There is a lot of buzz around the midfield four that includes Wilshere alongside Pablo Fornals, Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini, plus the club-record signing Sebastien Haller up front.
Lows – defensively the Hammers have looked very poor, shipping 12 goals including four to City in the Premier League Asia Trophy match in Nanjing last month. The signing of Cardoso isn’t going to remedy that straight away as he’s still a teenager so Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena will have to up their levels significantly this weekend.
How have the new signings looked and what does it say for West Ham’s ambitions to have spent such money?
Fornals has looked a real handful in the three matches he has played, so has Haller despite him scoring a superb own goal against Athletic Bilbao last weekend. New goalkeeper Roberto, who played in Nanjing, has looked shaky but thankfully Lukasz Fabianski should be fit to play this weekend after missing the final two friendlies.
Fornals looks as though he will get a ton of assists this year buzzing around in midfield despite his small stature, and Haller looks like the kind of player West Ham hoped they were getting when Andy Carroll signed seven years ago, but better.
West Ham want to get in the Europa League and they have the manager to get them there in former City boss Manuel Pellegrini but make no mistake, £90m spent last summer and £75m this year means he has to deliver.
Who are the players City should be most wary of on Saturday?
Manuel Lanzini has hit form in the second half of pre-season, scoring three goals in his last three outings and is looking back to his best after a long-term knee injury ruined his 2018/19 campaign.
The chance to come up against City means it’s a chance to impress, so look to the likes of Felipe Anderson and Haller to have a big game, Wilshere will want to prove his pre-season form was no fluke either.