After our last home game against Tottenham, the team heads up to the Etihad Stadium to face the blue side of Manchester, for the second time following the embarrassing defeat in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
It is fair to say that City are an entirely different beast to what they used to be, fuelled by the billions of their Sheik owners they can afford to lure in any talent from around the world. Recently proved in the study conducted by ESPN The Magazine and SportingIntelligence naming City’s players the ‘best paid team in sport’. It’s strange to think that just five years ago the Hammers actually finished above Manchester City. At the end of the 2008-09 season, West Ham United climbed to the lofty heights of 9th place with City a point behind in 10th.
A relegation and promotion for the Irons and many millions spent and a Premier League title for the blue half of Manchester and the times could not have been more different for West Ham and Man City. This is not begrudging City their success because I actually quite enjoy watching them. The talent in their squad and the attacking style of manager Pellegrini makes them a more attractive prospect than the likes of Chelsea and Spurs.
The likes of Agüero, Silva, Kompany and Nasri have many qualities, but for some reason it hasn’t fully worked out for City this season. Injuries have come at tricky times. Agüero missed the first leg against Barcelona and has struggled to find form for a while, Negredo has run out of steam after a blistering first few months in England, and Kompany is in and out of the team, it’s something that we Hammers fans can understand what with our horrible record with injuries.
But when you’ve spent multi-millions assembling a squad that on paper should have the Premier League title wrapped up, you’d expect more than just a League Cup come the end of May. The Champions League always looked too early for City with the likes of the Madrids and a rampant Bayern Munich, but it was an improvement on recent years. They’ve paid dearly for some slip-ups in the Premier League title race too, bogeyside Sunderland almost escaping the Etihad with a win before going on to do just that at title rivals Chelsea just three days later.
The early season away form has proved costly too, but another summer of strengthening and they will be at it again next season and Pellegrini will know just what needs doing to launch another pursuit of the Premier League crown.
West Ham haven’t fared greatly in recent visits to the Etihad, the less said about the 6-0 humbling in the League Cup in January the better, but we have also failed to take many points off the top four with just a point away at Chelsea, so unfortunately it looks like we won’t be seeing a surprisingly ceremonious end to the 2013-14 season for West Ham United when heading to Manchester on May 11th.