Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Manchester City will continue their search for a fifth consecutive Carabao Cup triumph when they face West Ham United at London Stadium.

West Ham United have done easy work with their newfound busy schedule as David Moyes’ side juggles European and domestic matches relatively easily and in good shape. Since their home loss to Manchester United in the Premier League, the Hammers have embarked on a fine run, winning six out of seven games.

During that period, they eliminated Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup and set up a date with their neighbors and current proprietors, Manchester City. Moyes will be pleased with his team’s performance in recent weeks, while the weekend victory over London rivals Tottenham in the league will have boosted their confidence.

The Hammers have only lost twice in all tournaments this season, but both defeats came ahead of the home fans and Moyes will be on guard against this record. Although their confidence may be sky high at the moment, they face stiff opposition at Manchester City, who have been at their relentless best after an uncertain start to the season.

After beating Brighton 1-4 away, Pep Guardiola will turn his attention to the Carabao Cup, a trophy his team has won in a row in the last four seasons. Manchester City’s goal scoring form should be a concern for their opponents. After another productive weekend of Premier League football, Guardiola’s men would like to continue in the same way against West Ham.

Moyes’ side may not be pushovers like the Wycombe Wanderers, against whom Man City scored six goals in the previous round of the EFL Cup. Hammers stand in the way of Guardiola and Manchester City in their quest to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.

Team news and tactics

West Ham United

Keeping in mind the strict match list that Moyes’ side have so far maneuvered comfortably, it can still put enormous physical pressure on the players. The manager is likely to freshen up his lineup for the Manchester City showdown, with many fringe stars likely to join.

Vladimir Coufal is the only absent injury for the home side, while Alex Kral will be missed after being tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month. Given the threat from Manchester City, Moyes will try to keep some of the regular players on the sidelines.

Central defense is certainly an area that could use some change. Craig Dawson and Issa Diop should start this game instead of Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma. Meanwhile, Aaron Cresswell will retain his place as left-back, Moyes will definitely pick up Ryan Fredericks for the overworked Ben Johnson.

Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek are expected to continue their midfield partnership, while Manuel Lanzini could come in for Said Benrahma in the offensive midfield role. Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen are all expected to remain on the team.

Likely lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola; Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Ris, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio

Manchester By

Guardiola will switch from his side to the Carabao Cup trip to London, with several non-regulars eager to join. Although these players are by no means fringe stars, they just have not cemented a place in the club’s Premier League starting XI during this period.

Raheem Sterling was a notable absentee on the weekend with a back problem. Guardiola has more than enough options not to risk the English national team player for the cup match. Ferran Torres remains out with a long-term foot injury, while Liam Delap is also absent with an ankle problem.

To accommodate some irregular players like Riyad Mahrez, Guardiola can use Gabriel Jesus centrally this time with plenty of options on the wings. Jack Grealish is expected to start on the left side of the attack.

Guardiola was able to give Conrad Egan-Riley a start at right back while taking the opportunity to rest his solid backs. Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has been hungry after playing time, may get his wishes fulfilled with a starting place as left back. John Stones was able to get into the central defense along with Nathan Ake.

Guardiola can give Cole Palmer a chance to shine as he can line up alongside club captain Fernandinho and star Kevin De Bruyne in a three in midfield.

Likely lineup (4-3-3): Steffen; Egan-Riley; Sten, Ake, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Palmer; Mahrez, Jesus, Grealish

Key statistics

  • West Ham United have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches in all competitions.
  • Manchester City have scored nine goals in their last two away games in all competitions.
  • Manchester City have only held zero in one of their last five games in all competitions.
  • Manchester City have won the Carabao Cup in the last four seasons.
  • Arsenal are the only team to knock both Manchester clubs out of this competition back in 1977/78. West Ham could continue to achieve that feat on Wednesday, after eliminating Manchester United in the previous round.

Playing to watch

Jack Grealish

Integrate from Getty Images

The English national team player’s form has diminished somewhat in recent matches, although he has still managed to influence the game with a few assists here and there. While the big outlay from Manchester City causes them to start Grealish in every possible match, the striker needs to keep track of it and start scoring regularly for the team.

While there is no doubt about his work speed and creative influence, in order to survive on Guardiola’s team, goals are a necessity from the forward-looking players. As Raheem Sterling has figured out the hard way, Grealish might get a similar treatment if he doesn’t start shooting on all cylinders.

Forecast

West Ham United 1-2 Manchester City

If West Ham decide to continue the central defensive partnership with Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna, we might just see a close match here, but these defenders certainly need some much-needed rest. Given that, Manchester City might find it a little easy to find their way towards Alphonse Areola’s goal. Expect a narrow victory for Pep Guardiola’s men, who will dream of a fifth Carabao Cup success in a row this season.

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