English Premiership

City out to avoid Hammer blow

2014-10-24 11:26
Joe Hart (AFP)

London - Goalkeeper Joe Hart expects Manchester City to recover from their midweek Champions League disappointment to keep their challenge for domestic honours on track at in-form West Ham on Saturday.

City let slip a two-goal lead at CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night to draw 2-2 in the behind-closed-doors game in the Russian capital.

The result left City third in Group E with just two points from their opening three games and in danger of missing out on qualification for the knockout phase of the competition.

But Hart isn't giving up on Europe and believes Premier League champions City will respond positively at West Ham as they look for a fourth successive league victory to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to two points before Jose Mourinho's side goes to Manchester United on Sunday.

"It's going to be difficult but we are more than capable of qualifying from this group in the Champions League," England goalkeeper Hart said.

"We have got the return leg against Moscow next and we have got to focus on that first and let the other two do what they need to do," he added.

"But the nature of this club now is game after game, which means a lot, so we go to West Ham confident.

"We got a good result against Tottenham last week. It was a difficult one on Tuesday but we move on."

City's away record in the Premier League is as good as Chelsea's, with three wins and a draw from their opening four games.

The defending champions haven't lost in their last 10 games against West Ham and will have happy memories of their last meeting – a 2-0 win in May which saw City clinch their second Premier League title in three seasons.

That was at home, though, and the Hammers are a different proposition this season to the side that took on City four times last term and were beaten on every occasion, including a two-legged League Cup semifinal that ended in a 9-0 aggregate humiliation for Sam Allardyce's side.

The West Ham manager was prepared to dare the outcome would be different this time, especially as the east London club now feature a number of new signings and are fourth in the Premier League table.

"We've got a different team with a different set of players," said Allardyce, who has seen Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Mauro Zarate, Alex Song and Aaron Cresswell all impress after arriving at Upton Park.

"We didn't get anything against Manchester City, and everybody still talks about the semifinal of the Capital One (League) Cup which there was little or nothing we could do because of the injuries we'd suffered," the experienced manager added.

"They (City) are a fabulous side, and this season if we are going to challenge them for anything it's at this moment in time. They've just come back from playing a Champions League game. If we're going to get anything, perhaps now is the time. We're in good, confident form."

Another pre-season signing, midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, has been passed fit to return against City, as has centre-back James Tomkins.

But City's former West Ham midfielder Frank Lampard, who sustained a thigh injury in last weekend's 4-1 win over Tottenham, is doubtful while Samir Nasri is again missing from Manuel Pellegrini's squad as he continues to recover from a groin operation.

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