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West Ham preview

When and where:
Saturday 23rd September 2006, City of Manchester Stadium.

Current form:
The signings of Tevez and Mascherano were heralded by all and sundry when they touched down at Upton Park but the pair are still to taste victory for the Hammers in the three games since then.
As sketchy as West Ham's form has been though, it pales into comparison when compared to that of City. Only a win against Arsenal as a positve this season, the defeat to Chesterfield on Wednesday being the pinnacle of the slide in form since we exited the FA Cup last season - at home to West Ham.

Team news:
Paul Dickov may earn a recall to the side after the less than impressive performances from Corradi and Samaras against Chesterfield, whilst DaMarcus Beasley may start to add some attacking impetus.
For West Ham, John Collins will be missing from the defence - possibly be replaced by Jonathan Spector.

City link:
Tyrone Mears (or Ty as he now seems to be known) looked anything but Premiership quality during his time at the club but sealed a summer move following his time at Preston.

Keys to the game:
From what I have seen of Tevez and Mascherano so far in West Ham colours, they clearly stand out. Mascherano looks capable of controlling the game from a deep lying midfield position, whilst Tevez has undoubted class and will be a handful for the City defence.
For City, they really need to shake off this malaise that has surrounded the whole club of late but with fan unrest growing against Pearce and the side it will not be easy. An early goal would settle everything and avoid unrest from the stands - however, even going a goal ahead is no guarantee at present.

Why City will win:
West Ham are struggling also at the moment, but primarily the players will respond to the recent criticism and prove that contrary to speculation they are totally behind Stuart Pearce.
Plus, beating West Ham at home will add some symmetry to the woes since the Cup exit.

Why City will lose:
Mired in an awful spell of form, fans arguing with players, players arguing with managers, pressure on Pearce from the media. It all adds up to a bad afternoon on the pitch, giving the fans plenty of ammunition.

Prediction:
City 1 West Ham 1