West Ham vs Man City key battles

West Ham will be back in Premier League action on Saturday when they welcome reigning champions Manchester City to the London Stadium.

The Hammers, after drawing their season opener with Bournemouth, have recorded three straight wins in the Premier League. They went into the international break off the back of a 2-1 win over newly-promoted Luton Town.

Meanwhile, Man City are the only team with a 100 per cent record in the division thus far—a fitting start to their title defence. Pep Guardiola’s men head to London off the back of a 5-1 demolition of Fulham before the break.

With both teams enjoying an unbeaten start to the 2023/24 season, this game should make for an entertaining watch. They’ll both look to resume league action following the international break with a win. On that note, here are three key battles that could define the outcome of the game between West Ham and Man City.

#Phil Foden vs Vladimir Coufal

Phil Foden played wide on the left against Fulham in Jack Grealish’s injury absence last time out, and if he is still unavailable, the City academy graduate should retain his spot in the team.

A special talent blessed with pace, trickery, spatial awareness and game intelligence, Foden could be a real threat, particularly with midfielders Rodri and Mateo Kovacic capable of finding him in promising areas in the final third. He is expected to line up against Vladimir Coufal, who has started the season strongly at right-back.

The Czech Republic international is a reliable and aggressive full-back—always committed to the cause. Coufal may lack the blistering speed and agility to match Foden but he could bring his valuable experience to the floor while defending against the City star.

With that being said, how the West Ham right-back copes with Foden will be an interesting watch.

#Lucas Paqueta vs Rodri

West Ham have enjoyed a brilliant start to the season and they incredibly could go above Man City if they beat them on Saturday. Lucas Paqueta, who was heavily linked with a move to City in the past summer transfer window, has been central to the Hammers’ unbeaten start.

With a goal and an assist, the Brazilian playmaker has begun 2023/24 on fire from midfield, thereby managing to put the disappointment of a failed move to City behind him. With Edson Alvarez and James Ward-Prowse likely to start behind him, Paqueta’s creativity, vision to spot passes and rally forward in transitions can be dangerous, which is something Rodri will look to stop.

Rodri is indispensable to Guardiola’s City, connecting the midfield with attack. With his passing ability, he will look to dictate the tempo of play and create opportunities for the forwards in the final third. If the Spaniard can frustrate Paqueta by limiting his time and space on the ball, it will nullify a big part of West Ham’s attacking threat to hurt City.

#Erling Haaland vs West Ham centre-backs

Erling Haaland scored his first goal for City against West Ham on the opening day of last season. And then he went on to enjoy an incredible debut season in England, helping the Sky Blues win the treble. So, it is understandable why the Norwegian is the most feared striker in Europe.

Haaland has started the new campaign in rollicking form with six goals in four league outings, including a fine hat-trick against Fulham last time out. He is going to be City’s biggest threat and West Ham centre-backs—Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd—must contain him if West Ham are to have a chance of getting a positive result at home.

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