Sunday 19th April 2015, Etihad Stadium. Live on Sky Sports 1. Kick-off 1:30pm.
Two teams who are struggling with more form meet at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City host West Ham United.
City’s priorities have changed in recent week from a title challenge to ensure they don’t drop out the top four. Last weekend’s 4-2 loss to rivals Manchester United has left them down in fourth, four better off than fifth-placed Liverpool.
The derby defeat was the third in their last four outings to see them drop below Man Utd and fall 12 points behind league leaders Chelsea. Their form has worried boss Manuel Pellegrini but he has refused to believe settling for fourth would be a good outcome.
He told BBC Sport; “The only way to explain our run is that we don’t have the results. We lost many points, not only [against Manchester United] which was a very difficult one, but in others too.
“We are concerned but now we must try to win the next game at home to West Ham.
“We have been first or second the whole year and now we are fourth but United and Arsenal have to play against Chelsea. We have 18 more points to play for. We must not be dramatic.”
Ninth-placed West Ham United have also had a downturn in form over the last few months. Last time out they conceded a 90th-minute equalizer against Stoke City to draw 1-1, their seventh point from the last 10 outings.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has explained his team’s shortcomings but already has eyes on performing better next term.
“The early part of the season is about the players achieving great heights,” Allardyce told Daily Mail. “I think that as the squad has found at this stage they’re finding the nitty gritty of the Premier League and that is the physical and mental fatigue that they’ve not experienced.
“Next season they’ll be better, they’ll be more experienced, they’ll be more able to cope than they have been this season.”
With both teams having little in the way of momentum I expect this game to be decided by the individual talent on show which will help Manchester City. The quality in the City ranks means they will always have a chance and given West Ham’s dismal form they can overcome the -1 handicap. Back Man City -1 with SkyBet at 8/11.
Man City -1 8/11 (SkyBet)