A first-half shut-out key to West Ham’s chances away at Man City

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Many may be already calling time on Manuel Pellegrini’s reign as Manchester City boss after the Citizens fell to their fifth defeat in seven matches, but he has a chance to restore order against West Ham.

The Hammers themselves have been hopelessly out-of-form recently, with just one win in the last two months.

At a price of 1/4 the hosts look home and hosed, according to the bookies, but it might not be that clear-cut.

Sam Allardyce’s men are 10/1 outsiders for victory, but one thing they must do to have a chance, is to keep it tight early on.

Should the Londoners go in at the break without the likes of Sergio Aguero or David Silva finding the net, their record suggests a point, or maybe even three, could be on the cards.

It appears that if they are able to get to half-time with their goal intact, the Hammers record is very solid.

Their opponents have drawn blanks in the opening period on 20 different occasions this season in all competitions, and only twice have the capital side lost.

Of those matches, only one were they truly outplayed (Liverpool away), but suffered an agonising defeat on the opening day when Eric Dier broke the dead-lock in added time.

Compare that to the 20 games they have conceded in the first 45 minutes, where they have gone on to lose 10 and win just three, a story is beginning to unravel.

So there appears the key, keep City out in the early stages and the world is their oyster.

They should have just the man in charge in notoriously defensive-minded gaffer Sam Allardyce.

The fact that they have achieved the feat so many times this campaign, including when dispatching of the champions 2-1 at the Boleyn Ground, could mean that the 15/8 on offer for a Hammers first half clean sheet.

Do that and the brave souls that opted for a West Ham win, or even a draw at 5/1 could be handsomely rewarded the visitor’s first half resolve.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.