Greater Manchester fire brigade services are on red alert this evening for the Premiership clash between high flying sharpshooters Manchester City (first) and West Ham (fifth). Having each netted on eleven occasions during their five games to date, there is a definite risk that the overworked scoreboard could go on fire! While both sides have demonstrated the capacity to score goals aplenty, the difference has been West Ham's concession of six goals compared with City whose goal is yet to be breached in the Premiership.
However, West Ham have kept both Arsenal and Liverpool goalless during their away trips this season. Moreover, Juventus showed just how to topple City at the Etihad scoring twice late on to take victory in their midweek Champions league tussle. captain Vincent Kompany picked up an injury during the match and is expected to sit out today's tie, adding to the belief that the Hammers can pose a veritale threat up front against a city side who have looked unstoppable so far this season.
There has been much speculation as to how West Ham will line out - with the more defensively adept Pedro Obiang expected to start ahead of Manuel Lanzini. James Tomkins will slot in seamlessly in replacement for the hamstrung Ogbonna, with Karl Jenkinson returning to a starting position at right back. Darren Randolph has performed with great distinction during Adrian's suspension, and many believe has a shout at retaining the starting berth even though Adrian is available again, but we expect the Spaniard to start. Either way, the Hammers team selection will say much about what Slaven Bilic considers to be his best starting XI from the palyers available at present.
As always, Man City's bench is strong, but Monday night demonstrated how much strength in depth the Hammers now have with a substitutes bench dripping with gamechanging talent - with Andy Carroll providing an option that looks very enticing given Kompany's absence. Less reassuring for the Hammers faithful is the news that Sergio Aguero has recovered from injury and is likely to start. However, behind all the interest in the performances of Payet et al up front, Winston Reid has been a defensive rock so far this season and wil be relishing the encounter with the Premiership's most prolific striker.
As contrarians, we predict a dour goalless draw, with Bilic demonstrating his ability to frustrate top class opposition.