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PL Preview: Fulham v. West Ham

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  • Fulham has won 3 of the last 4 games vs West Ham at home
  • West Ham has not won 4 PL games in a row since 2014
  • Fulham has gone 20 PL games without a clean sheet, conceding 51 goals in that span

Fulham begins a critical four-game stretch, sitting bottom of the Premier League table and needing points as they host West Ham at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Whites’ next four matches see them take on the Hammers, followed by games against Newcastle, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Huddersfield Town. They sit in the basement of the standings, but are just four points from safety. Fulham has secured four points in four matches under new manager Claudio Ranieri, but were also thoroughly beaten by both Chelsea and Manchester United, meaning the games against fellow relegation candidates are becoming more and more critical.

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Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is unavailable after a controversial second yellow card against Manchester United saw him sent for an early shower. Maxime Le Marchand is a big miss for the Whites, out with an undisclosed muscular injury, but that is the extent of their unavailable list as Calum Chambers, Floyd Ayite, Andre Schurrle, and Kevin McDonald are all ready to go, Ranieri confirmed.

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere will miss his third straight match for West Ham as he recovers from an ankle injury, and Lucas Perez is likely unavailable due to a cut on his foot, but otherwise the Hammers are fully fit as they look for an opportunity to move into the top half of the table.

West Ham was in the bottom third of the table for much of the first few months of the season, but they have climbed to 11th with a run of seven matches that features just one loss. That includes a current three-match winning streak that has seen West Ham drop three relegation candidates in Newcastle, Cardiff City, and Crystal Palace, by a combined 9-3 score. With Fulham up this weekend followed by matches against Watford, Southampton, Burnley, and Brighton, this is the time for the Hammers to pick up a swath of points and brace for a grueling final third of the season.

What they’re saying

Ranieri on Fulham’s lack of a clean sheet this season: “The players are improving a lot with my tactics. It’s normal they need time to understand everything. Sooner or later, we’ll keep a clean sheet – I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

Pellegrini on playing a team near the bottom: “I said last week, the most stupid thing we can do is to believe that because we are playing against teams near the bottom of the table we will win. We must be very careful, thinking game by game.”

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Prediction

While West Ham is playing well, they will be up against a team that knows this four-game stretch is critical. Still, Fulham’s midfield is a complete mess, and they have lots to work on. The defense is a bad matchup for a Hammers side on a roll in front of net. That run will continue, as West Ham wins 3-1 behind another big attacking performance.

Chicharito scores twice, heats up as West Ham begins nice run of fixtures

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez had some kind of day on Saturday at St. James’ Park.

West Ham United’s Mexican forward scored a pair of goals sandwiched around two flubbed, straight-forward chances as the Irons beat Newcastle United 3-0.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 0-3 West Ham ]

Hernandez, 30, made a perfectly-timed run into his office to nod an opener past Martin Dubravka before bursting onto a Marko Arnautovic flick for his second.

That goal was a marvel, the strong El Tri star roasting Fabian Schar before hitting a hard low shot into the goal.

It was a rare start for Hernandez, who said he’s had to relax and wait for his turn atop the attack.

From the BBC:

“I know I am doing well on the training ground. I have been patient. In this world when you have confidence it is easier to perform like I did today. I missed two but we did a good job, my team-mates.

“We have a big squad, with people waiting for an opportunity. We have another opportunity at home next up.”

Here’s Pellegrini:

“We arrive with the World Cup and Javier (Hernandez) was five weeks ill. It is not easy to recover his best moment but he is a scorer. When I start with him today because before that he could not play a complete game. I am happy for him.”

Felipe Anderson also scored for the Irons, who move into 13th place with 15 points. This is part of a promising run of fixtures of Pellegrini’s men, who next host Cardiff City and Crystal Palace before visiting Fulham and returning home for Watford before trips to Southampton and Burnley.

Sane, Man City ease to win at West Ham

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  • City scores twice in first 19 minutes
  • Hosts can’t convert early chances
  • Sane scores two more
  • Unhappy return for Manuel Pellegrini

Leroy Sane scored twice as Manchester City cruised past West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday, moving to 35 points with a 4-0 win on Saturday.

David Silva and Raheem Sterling also scored for City, while West Ham remains 13th with 12 points.

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini did not enjoy his reunion with a club that loves him, seeing few chances after an early flurry from the hosts.

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It was clear that Manuel Pellegrini was playing to attack Fabian Delph at left back, especially on the counter, as Benjamin Mendy‘s absence loomed over the City XI.

And while there were moments in the first few minutes for the Irons, Silva and Sterling scored from within six yards in the 11th and 19th minutes, respectively.

For as good as City was early, it needed a pair of fine saves by Ederson to keep the sheet clean. Marko Arnautovic saw his shot through traffic thwarted by a diving keeper, and Ederson made it two-straight saves when Arnautovic slipped Michail Antonio into the right of the box.

City made it 3-0 with another well-worked team goal — won’t Pep be proud? — as Sane was on the business end of another deconstruction of West Ham’s back line.

Arnautovic was fortunate to remain in the game when his clumsy challenge landed on top of Delph’s planted ankle.

Sane added a fourth goal in stoppage time, as City and West Ham really just passed most of the second half for time.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Man City

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  • Man City has won five-straight vs. West Ham 
  • Boasts 18-3 combined score line in those matches
  • Man City leads all-time 53W-17D-37L

Longtime Man City men Manuel Pellegrini and Pablo Zabaleta welcome their old club to the London Stadium on Saturday when West Ham United looks to boost its unbeaten run to four (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

West Ham has drawn Leicester City and Huddersfield Town while defeating Burnley on its current run, though Man City is a different animal.

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Pep Guardiola‘s City sits atop the Premier League and has won its last four by a combined score of 15-2.

Pellegrini led Man City to the 2013-14 Premier League title and two League Cups, while Zabaleta claimed two PL crowns, a League Cup, and an FA Cup from his 333 appearances in City’s colors.

What they’re saying

West Ham United’s Pablo Zabaleta on playing his former club“It’s special, but it is hard as well because I know most of the lads. When you play against some former teammates it’s difficult, but now I am a West Ham player and I want West Ham to win the game.”

Pep Guardiola on facing former Man City boss Pellegrini“His career speaks for itself in terms of the quality. When you see the teams of Manuel Pellegrini, when you are blind you recognize his style. He put this team on another level. The way they played and created a style was impressive. He went to Real Madrid [in 2009] and made 96 points. It was good. Here he won the league and helped this club be where we are right now. He will do well at West Ham where there are many good supporters.”

Prediction

The Hammers are improving for sure, but they aren’t quite ready to overturn their City fortunes. Man City 3-0.

Premier League: Leicester City vs. West Ham United

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  • West Ham took four of six points last season
  • West Ham leads all-time 52W-31D-47L

West Ham United and Leicester City meet Saturday at King Power Stadium with a long list of similarities between the two clubs (Watch live at 12:30 p.m ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Both sides wanted to take the next step from last season and compete for a Top Six place, and both have yet to do so.

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Both have lost back-to-back matches and are in danger of taking a genuine step back from the pack of those chasing top-half finishes.

And both have fixture lists providing opportunities to rise well up the table, starting Saturday.

Leicester’s 12 points have it five points and three places above 14th place West Ham.

What they’re saying

Leicester City’s Harry Maguire on the match: I think we’re probably both looking for comfortable top-half finishes, thinking can we push and fight for the seventh place. Both are probably happy with the way they’re playing at the start of the season, but maybe the results could have gone a little bit better. It’s going to be an interesting game, one that’s hard to predict and probably the best team who perform on the day will go out and get the three points and we feel like we’ve got enough in our team to go out and get the three points on Saturday.”

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini aims for long run“I feel that we are improving, yes. If you see the game against Tottenham, the team that deserved it, maybe made more chances to win was our tam but, we didn’t. So in the last four games, three of them, we can agree we are playing well but in in the last three games, we didn’t score goals. Something is missing, to create more chances, you must score, but we start working defending and improving a lot, now we need to score the chances we create.”

Prediction

It should be a beaut under the bright lights, with tough tackles and plenty of countering depending on who’s holding the ball. Look for both sides to score, and perhaps just that. 1-1.