Thought to be the only hope to challenge Chelsea for the title, Manuel Pellegrini has been forced in recent days to discuss the possibility of Manchester City falling out of the top four completely.
While still an unlikely scenario, City must pick up the recent slack at home against West Ham, live from the Etihad at 8:30am ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Liverpool is lurking in fifth place, just four points behind Manchester City as the Citizens have lost four of their last six Premier League games, including contests with Burnley and Crystal Palace as well as the 4-2 thumping in the Manchester derby last weekend. West Ham, meanwhile, hasn’t fared much better, losing three of their last four as the team tries to cope with mid table obscurity.
For Pellegrini, he is forced to make changes from the Manchester derby not just out of poor form but injury as well, especially to his back line. Eliaquem Mangala comes in for the injured Vincent Kompany in the middle, while Gael Clichy misses out as well, replaced by Aleksander Kolarov.
Wilfried Bony, James Milner, and Stevan Jovetic are also forced to miss out, with Milner’s starting spot falling to Frank Lampard. That leaves Samir Nasri still on the bench alongside Edin Dzeko as the attacking options, along with 19-year-old forward Jose Angel Pozo.
Sam Allardyce is faced with a few injuries to plan around as well, with Diafra Sakho’s season possibly over due to a thigh strain. That puts Carlton Cole and Enner Valencia up front, the latter returning from a toe injury.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernando, Yaya Toure; Navas, Lampard, Silva; Aguero.
Bench: Caballero, Sagna, Boyata, Fernandinho, Nasri, Dzeko, Pozo.
West Ham United: Adrian, Reid, Cresswell, Kouyate, Downing, Noble, Jenkinson, Collins, Cole, Song, Valencia.
Bench: Jaaskelainen, Nolan, Jarvis, Nene, O’Brien, Amalfitano, Burke.