West Ham were arguably Manchester City’s favourite toy last term, affording them four wins and 14 goals for the cost of a solitary Ricardo Vaz Te strike.
However, there is an altogether different mood around the Boleyn Ground in 2014/15, with an infusion of new blood propelling the Irons into the Champions League places.
As such the Citizens have never been as vulnerable to shipping points against Sam Allardyce’s men under Manuel Pellegrini as they have on his fifth visit to Hammerville.
The visitors are 11/20 favourites for all three points with the 10/3-rated draw and a home win priced up at 5/1.
Yet the 5/2 about the West Ham double chance wager is arguably the way to play to cover any angle by which the hosts might crowbar points from the fixture.
Here’s why they will…
Big Sam says so
“It looks like being the best side since I’ve been here and the big bonus is the new players hitting the ground running.
The rest of the team has been lifted by that increase in quality and energy and we’ve got over some injury problems too.”
Diafra Sakho is man on a mission
The 2013/14 Ligue 2 player of the year has been an unexpectedly lethal weapon of defensive destruction since his arrival at the Boleyn Ground.
His five goals in six appearances have even overshadowed the nonetheless excellent £15m summer signing Enner Valencia.
Last term West Ham had scored just four times in seven games when City first came to visit.
Pellegrini’s men visit the East End a game later this year and they’ll find Allardyce’s troops in a far more prolific frame of mind, with 15 strikes already filed.
The Citizens are defensively vulnerable on the frog and toad.
All bar one of their last five hosts have helped themselves to a portion of goals-for, with three of the quintet – Arsenal, Hull and CSKA Moscow – bagged twice.
On Tuesday evening the Sky Blues’ first choice starting XI were 1787 miles away.
With the exception of Fernando coming in for Fernandinho, the City side that endured sub-zero temperatures against CSKA Moscow at Arena Khimki are arguably Pellegrini’s best outfit.
Such an arduous trip should soften them up nicely for the well-rested Irons.
Cheikhou Kouyate is back in the squad for the fixture.
West Ham’s pleasing recent form has been all the more impressive for the fact that a chunk of it has been conducted in the injury absence of the all-action Senegalese star, who had already been looking like one of the transfer snips of the summer.