Premier League Stats
The overall Head-to-Head stats favour us and obviously the last decade has a lot to do with it. We have played them a total of 39 times, winning 23 of them (15 at home and 8 away) while drawing 7. They have managed a total of 9 wins against us since the start of Premier League in those 39 meetings. The key stat in all this is that they have managed to win against us only twice when away.
The Recent Meetings record show our dominance again, winning four of them but it's that last meeting earlier this season that stands out, where they managed to held us off for a point ... but that was the start of the season and we all know how we were for the first two months of the season.
Their Season So Far stats highlight them as a Top Four side ... but more on that bit in a later section below. (See "What to actually be worried about?")
The Form Guide for us remains green all the way; theirs isn't bad either but looking at that one red "L" against their name ... I am not sure what happened to them against Liverpool, who weren't all that great and West Ham were at home as well. Is it a sign that they just rolled over for the champions and didn't think they could compete? Would they do the same for the champions-elect?
Busy, Busy, Busy
Let me address the scheduling bit first ...
We are returning from a Champions League Wednesday night game (from further afield than originally drawn and scheduled); possibly won't be back in till Thursday early morning ... this then is the Saturday early kick-off ... and we also follow that by a Tuesday night game.
No Europe for them means they are on a cushy one-game-per-week schedule. Had a home game before, have another one in home comforts later ... a whole week later ... so no doubt they would be fresh(er); and would have had plenty of rest, recovery and preparation before coming to the Etihad.
These are their (and our) games around this tie:
West Ham United
Sun 21 - 12:00pm - Spurs (H) - PL
Sat 27 - 12:30pm - City (A) - PL
Sat 6 - 6:00pm - Leeds (H) - PL
Wed 24 - 8:00pm - Mönchengladbach (A) - CL
Sat 27 - 12:30pm - West Ham (H) - PL
Tue 2 - 8:00pm - Wolves (H) - PL
The one little comfort that I can draw for us here is that we now have four straight home games in a row, starting with this one ... other than that, yes they absolutely have a bit of advantage as far as scheduling goes.
What not to worry about?
I am a soothsayer; I can predict future ... and here's my prediction which you won't have to wait too long to find out: we will see about four or five comments within first few pages of this thread (by those who will obviously skip reading this first post) to the tune of oh, early kick-off, we always drop points then; oh, hate these Saturday early kick-offs, we never play well here; and oh, we are never up for it so early on a Saturday ... you get the drift.
I am not sure where this myth has originated from but doesn't help when the so called experts on BT Sport (as this is their regular slot) during the commentary say things like "maybe players' minds haven't woken up yet" (guess the genius who came up with that one) ... what utter non-sense ... and then recently Klopp went on waging a war against that very channel around group stages when Liverpool were given this Wed-Sat schedule a couple of times, and I can't remember if Ole joined him too or it was Klopp who just used Ole's name to emphasize his own point ... and picking up on all this chatter from our media, some of our fans also jumped on that bandwagon and commented citing those very comments when schedules came out that this is something we should be worried about ...
I know this was a big debate last season as well and talkSport produced a whole drive time show dedicated to this accompanied with an article on their website filled with some stats covering a whole decade ... so I went back to take a peek ...
What's to worry, eh? ... You have never heard Pep complain about it, and I doubt in future will either ... and to me this is actually a perfect opportunity to play first and put points on the board when everyone else has to play later in the weekend. See how United like going away to Chelsea knowing City have won earlier or how Leicester fare against Arsenal knowing gap is not 10 but 13 points ... of course we have to win it first, but I'd rather play before any of our rivals every single game-week ... so no, this Saturday early kick-off is not something to be worried about!
What to actually be worried about?
Now this below is something that we SHOULD actually be worried about (but possibly have overlooked in the larger view of things) ... and this is that wider view that has perhaps masked it completely ...
At the start of the month we looked at the list of what's ahead in the league (before the new rescheduled games were slotted in) and the list of next six league games read:
- Liverpool (A)
- Tottenham Hotspur (H)
- Everton (A)
- Arsenal (A)
- West Ham (H)
- Manchester United (H)
Guess which game everyone said would be the easiest of the lot? ... yup, the West Ham one ...
But were the others that came before really all that? Liverpool are 6th ... Everton 7th ... Tottenham 9th ... Arsenal 11th ... mid-table teams all of them (at least on form) ... so I am not so sure beating them all should classify as if they were all the top four teams and we have gone and smashed them at their best ...
Our next opponent though ARE an "actual" Top Four team as things stand ... sitting right up there in 4th place ... but hold that thought for just a moment (and I promise I will circle back to it) ...
This is now how our next six league fixtures line up, starting with West Ham ...
- West Ham (H)
- Wolves (H)
- Manchester United (H)
- Southampton (H)
- Fulham (A)
- Leicester (A)
So let me guess, standing out of that list as the most difficult (and perhaps talked up as our closest title rivals this season) are Manchester United (H) and Leicester (A)? ... right??
WRONG ... West Ham is the most dangerous and most in-form team in this second lot of fixtures as well ...
Let me post a table below that truly reflects the season where things stand. Discount our bad start of the season as that doesn't really reflect who we are today? So let's say we only look at the games from Christmas onwards ... then let's do the same to West Ham and every one else ... have a look at this then ...
I guess I don't need to say any more ... I called them a Top Four team above but they are NOT fourth in this table; they are better than both Manchester United and Leicester on recent form ... actually can't call it "recent form" as it's not just last three or last five games we're looking at ... that's over half a season so far if we are going all the way back to Christmas Day ... their stats actually fare even better than this if we calculate this from January 1st onwards (as they drew both their games between Christmas and New Year) ... that's not just recent form or a recent easy run ... that's sustained success over a fairly long period for good measure ...
... so this really is the clash of the top two!
We can't keep getting clean sheets; this is where we might concede an odd goal, given the return from travels and them being well in-form and much more fresher than us ... this is where I am inclined to say our run might come to an end (with all the reasons I've given above) but when you're on such an incredible run it's just very hard to predict against us at the moment ... I think we'd still have just enough to add another win here ... but I am expecting a very tight and an edgy game ...
Manchester City 2 - 1 West Ham United
PS. Win this and that's 8/8 in February after 9/9 in January!