How Manchester City Will Line Up Against West Ham United in League Cup Play

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIJanuary 20, 2014

City partied at the Etihad at the Hammers' expense in the first leg of this League Cup tie.
City partied at the Etihad at the Hammers' expense in the first leg of this League Cup tie.Jon Super/Associated Press

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini recently complained about the congested schedule his side must play, which in part is due to their ongoing participation in four trophy pursuits.

City's Capital One Cup success added fixtures to their already packed slate. But Pellegrini managed to alleviate some of City's schedule issues with the tool he loves best—a goal binge.

West Ham United welcome a rampaging City side for the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tie. City won the first leg 6-0, and Ladbrokes have not even posted odds for the 6-0 win the Hammers would need to even things up. A 4-0 West Ham win is posted at 275/1.

This match is therefore a glorified friendly, and Pellegrini's XI is exceedingly likely to reflect that reality. After tidying up this business with West Ham, City have a fourth-round FA Cup match with Watford four days later.

Then the real fun begins.

City will travel to White Hart Lane to tangle with a resurgent Tottenham Hotspur on Jan. 29. Spurs doubtlessly remember their own 6-0 disembowelling at the Etihad earlier this season and will surely be looking for some retribution.

Five days after that, Chelsea visit the Etihad in a match that will have significant repercussions on the Premier League title race.

With those vital matches looming, Pellegrini can have only two serious goals against West Ham: Give up fewer than six goals and keep everybody healthy.

City's XI for West Ham should look something like this: Costel Pantilimon, Gael Clichy, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic, Micah Richards, James Milner, Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia, Jesus Navas, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic.

Yes, that Stevan Jovetic, per Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star, who writes, "City boss Manuel Pellegrini is keen to get him back on the pitch and Jovetic has been pencilled in to what will be a much-changed side in a tie which they lead 6-0 after the first leg."

The return of Jovetic will add a touch of intrigue to what is, truthfully, little more than an errand for City at Upton Park.