Men's Team

Aguero starts as City make seven changes

Aguero starts as City make seven changes
Sergio Aguero makes his first City start for four months as Pep Guardiola rotates his squad for the visit of West Ham United.

The Club’s record goal-scorer has made just seven appearances from the bench since his last start – ironically against West Ham in October.

He is one of seven changes from the side that beat Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek.

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Oleksandr Zinchenko, John Stones. Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez are also recalled, with much of the side that played in Budapest on Wednesday starting on the bench.

TEAMS

City: Ederson, Walker, Zinchenko, Dias, Stones, Fernandinho (c), Gundogan, De Bruyne, Torres, Mahrez, Aguero

Subs: Steffen, Sterling, Jesus, Laporte, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Mendy, Cancelo, Foden

West Ham: Randolph, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Johnson, Fornals, Lingard, Antonio

Substitutes: Martin, Trott, Balbuena, Benrahma, Lanzini, Noble, Bowen, Odubeko

Formation and tactics

With no Joao Cancelo, here will be no ‘phantom full-back’ drifting around the midfield.

West Ham may have made plans to nullify that threat, so by chopping and changing the line-up, it makes it difficult for opponents to make any detailed plans.

Stones resumes his partnership with Ruben Dias, though with Aymeric Laporte available too, it seems the manager can use any two of the three with the same effective results.

Ferran Torres will also be keen to impress, and both he and Mahrez will be tasked with creating chances for Aguero.

De Bruyne and Gundogan will be supporting from the middle of the park, with skipper Fernandinho shoring up in the anchor role.

SERGIO boost

Sergio Aguero has had to be patient in his wait to return to the side with a series of injuries and then Coronavirus side-lining the City legend for most of the campaign.

Guardiola has been at pains to say he wouldn’t rush the Argentine back, wanting to be 100% sure he was match-fit before naming him in the starting XI.

Aguero will be hungry for goals and is there a better striker in the world to be returning for the final third of the season?

It’s been a difficult campaign for Kun, but there is plenty of time for it to become a memorable one.

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Hammer time

City’s record-breaking run will be tested this afternoon as the in-form Hammers roll into town.

David Moyes’ side have become one of the season’s surprise packages and are genuine Champions League challenges.

Moyes has shaped a side that are defensively sound, creative and solid in midfield and dangerous in attack.

They will look to continue that run at the Etihad and on the road, they have lost just three of their 12 matches.

In short, this is the best West Ham side in years, and this will be a hard 90 minutes for the Premier League leaders.

STATS AND MILESTONES

  • West Ham are winless in 11 games against City in all competitions since a 2-1 league victory at Etihad Stadium in September 2015 (D2, L9).
  • The 1-1 draw in this season's reverse fixture in October ended City's nine-match winning run against the Hammers.
  • City have scored in 19 successive league and cup games against West Ham.
  • City are enjoying the longest competitive winning streak in history by an English top-flight team. Thirteen of their 19 successive victories have come in the league.
  • City are unbeaten in 26 games across all competitions (W23, D3) - two matches shy of their longest run without defeat under Pep Guardiola, set in 2017.
  • City have not trailed at any point in their past 17 league fixtures, conceding just four goals.
  • Our tally of 15 clean sheets is the most by any team after 25 top-flight games since 2008-09.
  • The only goal conceded by City in their past 11 competitive home fixtures was a Ruben Dias own goal in a 1-1 draw against West Brom on 15 December.
  • Ilkay Gündogan has scored nine Premier League goals in 2021, four more than any other player.
  • Raheem Sterling has been involved in 14 goals in 15 Premier League appearances against West Ham, scoring eight and setting up six.

West Ham United

  • West Ham have won seven of their nine Premier League games in 2021.
  • The Hammers are in the top four after 25 top-flight matches for the first time since 1986, when they finished third.
  • A seventh away win of the season this Saturday would equal the club's Premier League record for a single campaign, last achieved in 2015-16.
  • David Moyes has gone 40 Premier League away games without a victory against established top-six opposition since his Everton side beat Manchester City in December 2010 (D12, L28).
  • Moyes is winless in his eight competitive fixtures as a manager versus Pep Guardiola, losing all four away matches.
  • All 42 of Michail Antonio's Premier League goals have come from inside the penalty area.
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