West Ham vs Man City predictions: Hammers can expect positive start
After May's exhilarating final-day title success, Manchester City go into 2022-23 looking to defend their Premier League crown for the fourth time in five seasons.
However, slow starts — or slow by their extraordinarily high standards, at least — have been a feature of the Citizens' recent domestic campaigns, with Pep Guardiola's juggernaut often taking time to move into top gear before thundering past their rivals.
And nor has Guardiola enjoyed facing West Ham since David Moyes took his seat in the London Stadium dugout, with City always put to the test against Moyes' hard-working Hammers.
West Ham have made a number of exciting signings this summer but it is possible that none of those five feature on the opening weekend.
Defender Nayef Aguerd is a confirmed absentee after picking up an injury in pre-season and he joins fellow centre-backs Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop on the sidelines, pending a late fitness test for Diop.
Striker Gianluca Scamacca and winger Maxwel Cornet have been brought in to add firepower but both will probably miss out against City as Cornet's registration is likely to have gone through too late while Scamacca is short of match fitness.
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola has made his loan move permanent but both he and incoming midfielder Flynn Downes are expected to be bench options this season.
Moyes' only other slight concerns are Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio. Both missed West Ham's final warm-up game with minor knocks but are expected to return.
Guardiola has only Aymeric Laporte out injured and fellow centre-back John Stones may start on the bench due to a lack of match fitness.
Erling Haaland will start up front while fellow summer signings Kalvin Phillips and goalkeeper Stefan Ortega look set for a place on the bench.
By their own lofty expectations, City have made relatively slow starts to their last three Premier League campaigns.
The Citizens lost their opening match at Tottenham last term and also drew against Southampton within their opening five games.
In 2019-20, they also dropped five points in their first five games, drawing against Spurs and suffering a shock defeat to Norwich.
In-between, in the worst start of City's modern era, Guardiola's men won only five of their first 12 league games before going on to win the title.
Neither has Guardiola led Manchester City to victory in any of his three visits to the London Stadium since Moyes became West Ham manager, drawing both Premier League meetings and losing on penalties in the fourth round of the EFL Cup last season.
West Ham were poor on the road against the top teams last season, taking just one point from a possible 27 away at fellow top-half sides.
Back at the London Stadium, however, Moyes' men were a match for anyone, beating Liverpool (3-2), Chelsea (3-2) and Tottenham (1-0) as well as drawing 2-2 against City.
Hammers fans will be disappointed that they will not yet get a look at their new signings. But the good news is that they finally get to see a near full-strength version of last season’s first XI.
Competing on multiple fronts stretched a fatigued squad to breaking point towards the end of last season so West Ham should benefit greatly from having their main men fit and firing at the start of the new campaign.
Indeed, Sunday's line-up could be exactly the same Hammers XI who drew 2-2 with Manchester City on the penultimate weekend of last season.
That was a match in which West Ham were still reeling physically and emotionally from their crushing Europa League semi-final exit and claimed a point against a fully focused, title-chasing City side.
The hosts can be expected to make a real game of it against the Citizens and it would not be a huge shock to see them get another positive result against the champions.