Man City v West Ham: First 15 minutes hold the key for hosts
Not only did Man City fail to beat West Ham last season, they weren’t in front for a single minute of the 180 that the teams contested, yet the landscape has changed enough in the opening fortnight of this campaign for the Citizens to be rated 3/10 favourites to pocket three points.
In fairness, the Etihad Stadium head-to-head stats paint that result as an anomaly. The Irons lost their previous seven visits, shipping 10 without reply in the three across 2013-14 and 2014-15, and are 10/1 to repeat last September’s magic, with the draw an 11/2 shot.
But those odds are more a reflection of performances this month than past showdowns. Man City have won all four of their games under Pep Guardiola, while West Ham’s lone victory in the same sample size came 1-0 at home to a Bournemouth side reduced to 10 men.
Whereas they headed to Manchester in menacing travelling form last year having already defeated Arsenal and Liverpool, right now Slaven Bilic’s men bring three reverses (Stoke, Chelsea and Domzale) and a draw (Astra) from four road trips since May.
So Man City should make amends for not leading for a second in the 2015-16 clashes, and they should do so by being ahead when the clock strikes 15 minutes. It is 13/5 that they win that initial quarter of an hour.
Lightning starts have been a feature of their early encounters under Guardiola, with it taking four minutes for them to fire on the opening day against Sunderland and 13 in their first Champions League outing away to Steaua Bucharest.
Meanwhile, it took just six minutes for the deadlock to be broken when these clubs last met at the Etihad and less than one for the net to ripple in their final Boleyn Ground collision.
Another intriguing punting option relating to those trends is the 2/1 on there being more goals in the first half than the second. The most recent two skirmishes between this pair at the Etihad produced five goals in total, and every one of them arrived before the interval.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.