City have the perfect chance to exorcise their Champions League demons on Saturday evening when they return to domestic action.
West Ham United provide the opposition for the tea-time kick-off but where will the game be won and lost?
Here are five things to look out for…
Back on the horse…
Has the defeat to Juventus popped the bubble of invincibility City have enjoyed domestically over the past 11 games?
That’s the question that will be troubling the majority of those making the pilgrimage to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.
City are on a record-breaking run of 11 Premier League wins in a row and have kept clean sheets in six successive top flight games for the first time ever but that loss to the Italian champions has at least tempered some of the early season optimism.
In a high level game of fine margins, defeats like the one incurred against Juventus can happen but it’s important that City change the conversation and send out the message to their rivals that there were no psychological wounds inflicted on Tuesday night.
Of all 20 Premier League clubs, West Ham United have arguably had the most intriguing start to the season.
Slaven Bilic’s side have claimed away wins at Arsenal and Liverpool but have slipped up at home to Leicester and Bournemouth, suggesting that the Irons are most well suited to setting up to counter.
That’s a blueprint that will be familiar to Manuel Pellegrini, so it will be up to City to stay patient in their attempts to break the visitors down but also to be vigilant against West Ham’s pacey breaks.
As for their dangerman, there is one outstanding candidate…
Dimitri Payet has been one of the breakout stars of the season so far – he’s had a hand in 11 goals (four goals, seven assists) in his last 13 league appearances spread across the Premier League and Ligue 1.
Time to unleash De Bruyne?
Kevin De Bruyne has had to be patient for his opportunity to start a game for his new club but Saturday could present the perfect chance to unleash him onto the Premier League stage.
Although he didn’t have as much time to influence the action against Juventus as he would have liked, he claimed the Man of the Match honours in the win over Crystal Palace, despite being introduced from the substitute’s bench.
Is it time to see what the former Wolfsburg man can do from the start? It’s a tough one as incumbents of the attacking berths have done very little wrong so far in this Premier League season. Let us know your thoughts @MCFC.
Will it be Wilfried?
City started their last Premier League game at Selhurst Park with two up front for the first time this season, teaming up Wilfried Bony and Sergio Aguero.
On Tuesday, Pellegrini opted to give Bony the start with Aguero nursing a knee injury and, although the Ivorian may have been disappointed to not to have given his side the lead, he gave experienced defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini plenty to think about.
The goals will surely come for Wilfried but it’s reductive to judge a lone striker’s output purely on his attempts on goal – what shouldn’t be overlooked is his clever movement and hulking strength which occupied two of the savviest defenders around.
This created space for others to have opportunities but they were met by a goalkeeper right at the top of his game.
Don’t bet against Bony netting against the Hammers – he scored against them on his last game against them for Swansea…
Case for the defence…
Vincent Kompany has moved to allay fears that the calf injury which saw him substituted against Juventus was anything serious.
We’ll know more about the skipper’s condition after Manuel’s Friday lunchtime press conference but if the Belgian is ruled out of the West Ham game, it’ll be interesting to see who replaces him.
Pellegrini said last week that it was easier for an attacking player to come into his side than a defender but Nicolas Otamendi was introduced on Tuesday night for the first time and is a defender very much in the proactive, aggressive Kompany-mould.
That said, the Mangala/Demichelis defensive axis served City well last season, especially in the final weeks of the campaign, so Manuel could have a big decision ahead of him on Saturday afternoon if the captain doesn’t make it.
Support the team in aiming for a record 12 Premier League wins in a row as they take on West Ham on Sat 19th Sept at 5.30pm. Make sure you don’t miss out on another memorable game at the newly-expanded Etihad Stadium and buy your tickets now or enjoy the game in the new 93:20 bar from £60 + VAT.
Hospitality is also available – Experience the new Legends suite from £150 + VAT and enjoy a matchday like a Legend. You can book online, call our hospitality team on +44 161 444 1894 (option 1, option 2) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.