Mark Lawrenson is excited by the signings that West Ham have made in the summer transfer window but still believes that Manchester City will beat them on the opening day of the Premier League season this weekend.
Manuel Pellegrini splashed the cash on club-record signing Sebastien Haller and also welcomed Pablo Fornals, David Martin, Roberto, Goncalo Cardoso and Albian Ajeti to the London Stadium in what has been a well-received summer by the Hammers faithful.
West Ham have also waved goodbye to the likes of Andy Carroll, Lucas Perez, Pedro Obiang, Edimilson Fernandes, Marko Arnautovic, Samir Nasri, Reece Oxford, Sam Byram and Adrian to thin down what was a squad bloated by fringe players and sick-notes.
Liverpool legend Lawrenson is impressed with the Irons’ business and would normally predict Man City to run riot against Pellegrini’s men.
However after seeing how they have improved since the end of last season, the BBC pundit has predicted a narrow 2-1 win for the reigning Premier League champions at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“I was impressed by Manchester City in the first half of the Community Shield last week, and I like the look of their new midfielder, Rodri,” Lawrenson said on the BBC Sport website.
“West Ham have had a busy summer signing a bunch of players and I am looking forward to seeing how they shape up, but I can’t see City slipping up.
“City generally go to London Stadium and spank the Hammers – their four visits have seen them win 5-0, 4-0 4-1 and 4-0. I don’t think it will be quite that easy this time though.”
Man City are always going to be predicted to beat West Ham. It’s not hard to see why. Not only are Pep Guardiola’s side the reigning English champions but they are also many people’s favourite to retain the Premier League title this season. It also does not strengthen West Ham’s case when you see that they have lost all eight of their previous eight meetings with City, if you include the summer’s Premier League Asia Trophy defeat in China. West Ham’s pre-season friendlies didn’t end with the best results especially as Pellegrini’s side had it’s defensive flaws ruthlessly exposed at times. That is the main concern for the Irons going into the 2019/20 campaign. They have a lot of firepower up front. Haller and Ajeti scored goals for fun last season while attacking midfielders like Felipe Anderson, Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko are also going to be key for the side. What worries us are the left-backs and the defensive midfield area. What if Declan Rice gets injured? West Ham sold Obiang but didn’t replace him so Carlos Sanchez is looking as though he’ll be back-up for Rice. That’s a concern as the season goes on especially as it’s hard to see Rice playing every single game.