Can West Ham scupper Manchester City’s march to the quadruple
PUBLISHED: 10:30 27 February 2019
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The Hammers have a mountain to climb at The Etihad tonight
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini returns to the Etihad for the first time tonight (Wednesday) as his team look to upset the odds against Manchester City.
Pellegrini won the title with City during his time there and he will now look to put a spanner in their hopes tonight.
The plan for the Hammers is to squeeze into a European place this season and though that may be a tough ask, he has not given up.
“It would be an important achievement for everyone at the club,” said the boss.
“All the years I have worked in Europe, I have always qualified for European competition.
“If we do it, it will be great for the club, but if not we will do everything we can to do it next season.
“It depends on our performance in the next games. Now we are in the position number nine. I think we can do better.”
So does Pellegrini think his team are ready for European football?
“If you look at the bench from the last game against Fulham we have a strong bench, but then not all of them were 100 per cent fit,” he said.
City are on the crest of a wave as they look for a quadruple this season, having won the League Cup on Sunday.
Tonight will be tough but perhaps Saturday’s home fixture with Newcastle United is the more important game for West Ham.
“We have two games in less than 72 hours, so we must be intelligent to have a good starting XI in both games,” said Pellegrini.
“I am not worried about Friday to Wednesday, but Wednesday to Saturday is more difficult.
“I haven’t decided what we will do yet. We will see with the medical staff who has recovered well, so we will decide the team after the City game.”
Two pieces of good news are the return to training not only of Fabian Balbuena, but also of defender Winston Reid, who has missed the entire season so far.
“Balbuena and Winston Reid have started doing parts of the sessions with us so that is good news for them,” said Pellegrini.
“Fabian may be on the bench on Saturday or if not the following game. Winston will need some weeks more, but he is feeling good.”
With Manuel Lanzini making his first appearance on Friday, things are on the up for the run-in. Tonight’s match kicks-off at 8pm.