Perfection. That is the word chased by Pep Guardiola every second. He wants his team to be perfect, playing a perfect style with perfect results all the time.
The style hasn't been perfect so far, but that's understandable, given he has been at Manchester City for less than two months, with only four official matches to really see his side on the pitch in a competitive match. The results, however, have been perfect, and that is encouraging and serves as a confidence booster for the manager and the players as they all try to play the perfect style.
Four wins in four games in August are huge, even though we are still in August. Pep is a serial winner, regardless of the month, and these victories might be gigantic once we reach May and June. Guardiola and City hope to make it five against West Ham United, who visit the Etihad looking to pull off another upset in Manchester after a shocking win last season. Will Pep stay perfect, or will the Hammers be a source of trouble again? We'll find out on Sunday.
Date/Time: Sunday, August 28, 2016, 4pm local time (UK), 11am ET, 8am PT (US), 8:30pm IST (India)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Andre Marriner
On TV: NBCSN (US), Telemundo (US - Spanish), Sportsnet (Canada), Sky Sports 1 (UK), Star Sports 4 HD (India), elsewhere
Online streaming: NBC Sports Live (US), Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (US - Spanish), Sky GO (UK), BBC Radio 5 Live (UK - Radio), elsewhere
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
Man City team news: Pep Guardiola has no fresh injury concerns other than Bacary Sagna, who will be out through the international break. Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany are back in training, but not fit enough to play on Sunday. Other than those three, everybody else is healthy, which is not common in today's game.
New signing Leroy Sané is expected to make his City debut, even if just as a substitute. The young German came into the club with a hamstring issue, but trained well and normally throughout the week and is fit to play for the first time in a Sky Blue shirt. The newest signing, Claudio Bravo, will make his debut in the Manchester Derby after the break, with Willy Caballero expected back in goal as Joe Hart sorts out his future.
Guardiola rested eight starters in midweek, and all of them should be back to play on Sunday. Raheem Sterling and Sergio Agüero, perhaps the best performers in the early days of the Pep Era, will come back with very fresh legs and ready to wreak havoc in the Hammers' defense.
Predicted City starting lineup (very fluid 4-1-4-1):
Zabaleta - Stones - Otamendi - Kolarov
Sterling - De Bruyne - Silva - Nolito
West Ham team news: Manager Slaven Bilic has dealt with an insane number of injuries, most of them to key players like Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini. The latter should be fit enough for the bench on Sunday, but Payet is not expected to play for the second week in a row dealing with an injury.
Bilic will look to counter Guardiola's possession with the fast break. He has incredible pace in Enner Valencia and Michail Antonio, and those two attackers will need to be at their best to take advantage of counter-attacking chances and try to find a goal at Etihad.
This will be a fun matchup. Because of the Hammers' injuries, City are even bigger favorites. But they were the favorites last season, and lost 2-1 at home. West Ham are dangerous, and Guardiola needs to be careful with his gameplan. If he gets it right, though, it should be a good win for the Citizens to head into the international break on top of the Premier League.