West Ham United-Manchester City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

The Premier League title will be at stake Sunday when Manchester City host West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City (26-5-6) have won their last four games - including a 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa in midweek - and go into the final matchday with a two-point lead atop the Premier League table, thanks mainly to closest challengers Liverpool picking up just a single point in their last two matches.

The win over Aston Villa on Wednesday saw City notch their 100th goal of the season - a league high - while only third-placed Chelsea have conceded fewer goals over the course of the campaign.

The omens are good going into Sunday's crunch match. City have the most points (49), wins (16) and goals (61) at home out of every team in the Premier League, and they have rolled past Sunday's visitors West Ham by a combined score of 12-1 over three meetings this season. A brace by Sergio Aguero - who is expected to be fit for Sunday's game - and another by David Silva saw City win 3-1 in the league at Upton Park in October, while the teams' two-legged semi-final in the League Cup ended 9-0 on aggregate to the Citizens, with Aguero again finding the net five times.

Despite his team's promising position, Pellegrini is not taking anything for granted and is trying to stay calm and send his players into the final match of the campaign with the focus required to claim the club's second title in three seasons.

"After so many years, it is very important to control your emotions because when you have to take decisions under emotion normally you do it the wrong way," said the City boss. "I think it is very important for the manager to be calm, to try to repeat what we did the whole year.

"I expect to win. We are thinking not of winning one point but just winning the match and the best way to do it is to play the way we always do."

West Ham United (11-7-19) secured their Premier League status after a disappointing season with a morale-boosting three points from a win over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend - their third victory over their London rivals in all competitions this season. That game saw the Hammers keep their first clean sheet in 10 games, but they have yet to post a road shutout this season and lost four of their last five away from home. The east Londoners have not won in their last seven visits to Manchester City's home ground and have failed to score more than once in any of their last 18 games with the title favourites.

Despite the stats stacking up against his side, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce insists that his players will do everything they can to get a famous victory to possibly deny City the title.

"I watched the game against Aston Villa the other night and we all know that Manchester City in full flow are very difficult to play against," said Allardyce. "We've got to go out there and give a fantastic performance to stop them trying to grasp the title. It will be hugely difficult because they're the best team at home in the league, they've only lost once against Chelsea.

"Their goal record is fantastic and they have great players. Every player on top of his form, every player can go out and give everything they've got on the basis that they know we're in the Premier League next year, but let's try and spoil Manchester City's party."

City have no reported injury problems, while West Ham's only absentee is Marco Borriello with a calf problem.