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Premier League Preview: Manchester City - West Ham United

Kick-off: Monday, September 28, 2009 - 21:00 GMT
City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester


Manchester City's perfect start to the Premier League season came to a shuddering halt last weekend, thanks to Michael Owen's injury-time exploits at Old Trafford.

That 4-3 defeat in the derby left them six points adrift of leaders Chelsea, but the Blues' shock loss to Wigan Athletic on Saturday means the deficit remains the same - although Manchester United are now the frontrunners - as the Citizens head into their clash with West Ham United.

Mark Hughes' men bounced back with a midweek victory over Fulham in the League Cup, and they will be expected to secure a similar result - despite their decimated attack - when Gianfranco Zola and his charges come to visit.

While City look vastly improved after a summer of significant spending, the same cannot be said about the Irons. One of last season's big movers, they presently sit third from bottom with four points from five games.

Perhaps most worrying for West Ham is that they have found the net just five times so far this term, two of those goals coming in the 3-2 loss to Liverpool last weekend.

Now, the Londoners - who fell to Bolton Wanderers in League Cup action on Tuesday - come up against a City side who have conceded six goals in their last three games, albeit after a run of four successive clean sheets.

FORM GUIDE

Man City


Sep 23  Manchester City 2-1 Fulham  (League Cup)
Sep 20  Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City  (Premier League)
Sep 12  Manchester City 4-2 Arsenal  (Premier League)
Aug 30  Portsmouth 0-1 Manchester City  (Premier League)
Aug 22  Manchester City 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers  (Premier League)

West Ham

Sep 22  Bolton Wanderers 3-1 West Ham United  (League Cup)
Sep 19  West Ham United 3-2 Liverpool  (Premier League)
Sep 12  Wigan Athletic 1-0 West Ham United  (Premier League)
Aug 29  Blackburn Rovers 0-0 West Ham United  (Premier League)
Aug 23  West Ham United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur  (Premier League)

TEAM NEWS

Man City


There are fresh concerns with the news that Stephen Ireland was admitted to hospital during the week with dizziness. The midfield gun was released on Thursday and will undergo late tests to determine whether or not he'll play a part in this game.

If the Irishman doesn't pass fit, Michael Johnson has a chance to take his place. Abdominal problems have prevented the young Eastlands product from featuring this term, but he came through a reserves outing on Wednesday and has been named in Hughes' extended squad.

Also running around against Wrexham's seconds was £17 million man Roque Santa Cruz, who is set to make his first team debut after overcoming a long-term knee problem. Robinho (ankle) and Emmanuel Adeabyor (suspended) are still unavailable.

Possible XI: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, Ireland, Barry, De Jong, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Bellamy.

West Ham

Zola is sweating on the fitness of Matthew Upson as the England defender battles a calf complaint, while Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami could sit out with a back injury sustained against Liverpool last weekend.

Luis Jimenez is in the frame for Monday's game as he works back from a thigh problem. The Inter Milan-owned playmaker hasn't featured since the 0-0 draw with Blackburn in August.

Meanwhile, Guillermo Franco could make his first appearance for his new club. The Mexican striker just recently signed on at the Boleyn Ground from Villarreal.

Possible XI: Green, Faubert, Upson, Tomkins, Ilunga, Jimenez, Parker, Noble, Diamanti, Cole, Franco.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Man City - Craig Bellamy


The volatile Welshman has hit fine form in Robinho's absence, his industry and goals from the left flank proving a big bonus from a man expected to be on the outer all season. He should relish playing against his former club, too.

West Ham - Carlton Cole

The Irons need goals, and this is the man who should be providing them. The England striker has scored in his last two league games and will probably need to add to that tally if he wants his side to leave Eastlands with a share of the spoils.

PREDICTION

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United

Mike Maguire, Goal.com UK