Manchester City and West Ham United return from the international break and head right back into Premier League play. The Hammers scored a 3-0 victory over Tottenham before the respite in club play and should provide a tough test for City.
As it stands now, the Sky Blues sit in fifth place, but they are just three points off the pace being set by Arsenal and Liverpool. Add in the fact they lead the league in goal differential and City are once again shaping up to become title contenders.
West Ham are caught up in a very tight group in the middle of the table. If they want to start moving up, playing better at home is essential after securing just one win in their first three matches at Upton Park. City should be a good measuring stick of their progress.
Here's a look at all of the key viewing information for the Premier League clash, followed by a breakdown of the top storyline and a match prediction.
Where: Boleyn Ground in London, England
When: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. BST)
Watch: NBC and Sky Sports 1
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Manchester City: 48 percent
West Ham United: 26.6 percent
Draw: 25.4 percent
Top Storyline: How will Manuel Pellegrini handle the City lineup ahead of busy stretch?
One international break just came to an end, and another one is scheduled for the middle of next month. In between, City have an extremely busy schedule that includes Premier League, Champions League and Capital One Cup matches.
The Sky Blues will be playing twice a week during that stretch, which means Pellegrini must strike the right balance between building winning squads and making sure all of his players get the requisite rest. It's one of those manager tasks that is easier said than done.
Although the squad features solid depth, which will be further bolstered by the returns of Jack Rodwell and Martin Demichelis from injury, constant rotation makes it tough for players to find top form and even tougher to build chemistry within any given starting lineup.
Assuming Pellegrini keeps the in-form duo of Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero on the pitch together the attack should be in good shape. The midfield has also been playing well, bolstered by the stabilizing force of Fernandinho.
The biggest questions are along the back line. Aside from Pablo Zabaleta, City have received very little reliable play at the back in the early going. Switching players around during a busy stretch isn't going to help fix those issues.
It should open the door for West Ham to have success on the counter-attack. Kevin Nolan must be the pivot man for those breakouts, but finding somebody to convert those chances without Andy Carroll is a lingering concern.
For City, it would be a perfect time for Joe Hart to rediscover top form, but he's shown very few signs of that in the early going.
Obviously, the starting lineup Pellegrini decides to go with in the first match back will have a major impact on the outcome. If he goes with his best 11, City should be able to emerge from the Boleyn Ground with three key road points.
Should the City manager decide to shake things up right away, West Ham will have an opportunity to earn at least a draw. That said, assuming the Sky Blues should be pretty close to full strength, expect a narrow victory for the visitors.
Manchester City 2, West Ham 1
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