We caught up with one West Ham fan ahead of tonight's Premier League game...
How are you feeling ahead of the game?
I am really excited about the match. City are one of the most entertaining teams in the league and have players that you would pay good money to watch (and do) and we finally have our West Ham back and we are now great to watch too, so it should be an end to end thriller. I am nervous as well as we need to bounce back from the Newcastle game with a win to keep our great season going and we couldn’t have picked a tougher team to try and do that against.
What have you made of West Ham’s season so far?
It has been brilliant. We have had some great performances, especially away from home with wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and of course Manchester City standing out. We are playing good football, we sit healthily in the league and have exceeded our expectations so far. We have had a lot of injuries to pretty much all of our key players at some point this year yet we now have the squad to cope with it, which hasn’t always been the case in recent years for us.
What are your thoughts on Slaven Bilic?
Slaven has been breath of fresh air. If you have been reading our website you would see how much we back the manager there. Whilst I thought Big Sam did a good job for us he never connected with the fans and the club didn’t feel totally united but now everyone is behind Bilic and the club is moving forward together. What has been refreshing about Slaven is that he accepts responsibility for when things do not go well and doesn’t try to shift the blame which wasn’t the case under the previous management. Slaven Bilic was a brilliant player for us and was loved by the fans as a player and it looks like this will be the same case as a manager.
How do you expect the Hammers to line-up? Who will play and in what formation?
I expect us to play our usual 4-2-3-1 formation. I would imagine the team will be: Adrian, Tomkins, Ogbonna, Reid, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Antonio, Payet and Valencia. There may be some variations to this team with Collins (who has a knock), Moses, Song or Jelavic also contenders to play.
Where do you think the key battles will take place on the pitch?
The key battles will be between our centre backs and Aguero. We really need to do all we can to stop him getting chances as he has a great record against us. The other battle would be Fernando or Delph or whoever has the tough task of trying to keep Payet out of the game.
Who is your key player and why?
Payet is our key player. All our good attacking play comes from him and he really is a special talent. At times I do question how we managed to pull off the signing of him and wonder why he didn’t join one of the bigger clubs. He is an exceptional talent and has been a joy to watch this year. When I broke the news exclusively to my followers on my twitter account that we were scouting him I had no idea what a significant moment this would turn out to be for the club.
If you could have one City player in your team, who would it be and why?
I have mentioned him before but if we had Aguero I really believe we would be right at the top of the table this year considering we are sixth without him. What we have really missed this year is a consistent goal scorer and for someone to finish off all the chances we create. The idea of Payet playing behind him is the stuff of dreams. There are two forwards who I would love at the club from the Premier League. One is Lukaku who is such a great all round forward and the other is Aguero who has to be the best finisher.
What would you say both sides’ weaknesses are?
Well as I have already touched upon we do not have that prolific finisher at the moment. Sakho or Carroll could be that player but both are very injury prone and will obviously miss the City match so we will probably create chances but whether we finish them off is a different question. I would say City’s weakness has to be in defence. Although they appear to be finding some form now as there have been a few clean sheets recently, across the season I have seen City give away a lot of sloppy goals and I hope this is the case against us.
What are your views on City as a club? Is your opinion shared by the majority of Hammers fans?
I think we have a very good relationship with Manchester City. I was at the game at the Etihad stadium when you beat us to win the league two years ago and the City fans invaded the pitch and applauded our away fans. This relationship seems to stretch back a number of years, it wasn’t the first time we had shown each other this respect and I think we have a lot in common as clubs. Speaking to our fans I think this mutual respect is felt by many of our fan base as well. Of course there has been a number of players in recent years who have played for both clubs too such as: David James, Trevor Sinclair, Marc-Vivien Foe, Stuart Pearce, Steve Lomas, Paulo Wanchope, Eyal Berkovic, Ian Bishop, Trevor Morley, Mark Ward, Kevin Horlock, Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Tal Ben-Haim, Frank Lampard and of course Carlos Tevez which has made us have even closer ties.
Dare to cast a score prediction? Where do you think both sides will finish this season?
I think it will be a score draw I am going to go 1-1. In terms of league position I think we will hold on to sixth which will be a great position for us and that City will win the league. It is between you and Arsenal I think and if you can keep Aguero fit I think you will just have enough.