The new Premier League season is just a few days away. On Sunday the 7th of August, the late afternoon/early evening kick-off sees West Ham United host the defending champions, Manchester City at the London Stadium. Both teams made some important signings ahead of the start of the season and may sign more players before the summer transfer windows slams shut. While David Moyes attempted to address some weaknesses from the last season, Pep Guardiola has also been doing a mini rebuild with a few notable incomings and outgoings.
West Ham United finished the previous campaign in seventh place on the points table after accumulating 56 points. The Hammers won 16, drew eight and lost 14 matches in the season. They performed exactly as per what xG predicted, netting 1.4 goals per 90. They attempted slightly more than 10 shots per 90 and hit more than one-thirds of them on target. The East London club’s xA stood at only 0.78 per 90, indicating that West Ham struggled with creating big chances. That reflects in their rankings for passes into the final third per 90, key passes per 90, smart passes per 90 and through balls per 90 as they finished outside the upper third in all these categories.
West Ham won just under 21% of their aerial duels per 90, placing them in the middle of the table. But they attempted the third fewest defensive duels behind only Man City and Arsenal. The Hammers also won 652 out of 1440 aerial duels that they contested, giving them a win rate of 45.3%. With 912 recoveries in their opponent’s half, the East Londoners were placed as only the 13th best team in the league in this category. They were also ranked 13th for total recoveries made, with 2869. This means West Ham made 31.8% of their recoveries in the opposition’s half.
Manchester City won the Premier League crown, gaining 93 points in the season. They won 29 matches, drew six and lost only three. They survived an almighty scare on the final matchday of the season, trailing Aston Villa by 0-2 before making a comeback to win the game 3-2. Joao Cancelo was the Cityzens’ most successful threat creator last season and the majority of his threat came from open play. The leading assist providers in the squad were Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Joao Cancelo. The former two had eight assists each whereas Cancelo provided seven. Jesus has subsequently left the club to join Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
The top four men in the City squad for goals scored were De Bruyne, Sterling, Mahrez, and Foden. These four scored 48 goals for the team in the league last season. City have been very efficient in front of the goal, as seen in the above shot map. They ended up scoring a goal every 7.33 attempts on average.
Being heavy underdogs, West Ham United have odds stacked against them in this match for a victory. One can expect a few notable players to make their debut for both teams. Scamacca might start up top for the Hammers, and Erling Haaland could do the same for Manchester City.