Arguably the pick of the matches on the opening weekend of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign will take place at London Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as West Ham United welcome the champions Manchester City.
The Citizens will be looking to defend their title this season, while West Ham will again be bidding to be relevant in the discussion for a European finish come the end of the campaign.
West Ham finished seventh in the Premier League last season, in addition to making the fifth round of the FA Cup, quarter-finals of the EFL Cup and semi-finals of the Europa League during a strong campaign.
The Hammers will feel that they should have finished sixth due to Manchester United’s struggles towards the end of the season, but David Moyes’s side ultimately settled for seventh and a position in the playoff round of the Europa Conference League rather than a spot in the group stage of the Europa League.
West Ham will be hoping to push close to the top four in the league this term, and the club have been impressive in the transfer market this summer, bringing in Gianluca Scamacca, Nayef Aguerd, Flynn Downes, Maxwel Cornet and Alphonse Areola.
The capital giants have also managed to crucially keep hold of Declan Rice, who was again excellent during the 2021-22 campaign, and a busy pre-season saw them play seven matches in total, including a goalless draw with Lens last weekend.
West Ham will follow their clash with Man City with a trip to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest on August 14, before taking part in their playoff match in the Europa Conference League three days later.
Man City, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a 3-1 loss to Liverpool in the Community Shield last weekend, with the Reds managing to land the first blow in what could be another fascinating battle between the two best sides in English football this season.
The Citizens only actually played two pre-season fixtures, beating Club America 2-1 on July 20 before recording a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich three days later, and it will be fascinating to see whether that has an impact on their performances early in the campaign.
Man City managed to pip Liverpool to last season’s title on the final day by coming from two goals behind against Aston Villa to win 3-2, ultimately finishing one point clear of their rivals, boasting a record of 29 wins, six draws and three defeats from their 38 matches.
Pep Guardiola’s side will again be title favourites this term, and they have boosted their squad with the arrivals of Erling Braut Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Stefan Ortega and Julian Alvarez.
A victory on Sunday would lead the team nicely into a home match with Bournemouth on August 13, while they will also take on Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest in the opening month of the campaign, and it would certainly not be a surprise to see them head into September on 15 points.
West Ham United pre-season form:
Manchester City pre-season form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
We say: West Ham United 1-2 Manchester City
The points were shared in a 2-2 draw at London Stadium last season, and West Ham are certainly capable of making this a tricky opener for the champions. It would not be a surprise to see a draw on Sunday, but we just have a feeling that Man City will do enough to secure all three points in the capital.