West Ham United v Man City – the key battles

Manchester City made easy work of the Hammers in the first-leg as they ran out comfortably 6-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium.

The result means City have all but booked their place in the Capital One Cup Final, with the Hammers needing to pull off the one of the biggest comebacks in sporting history to have any chance of making it to Wembley in February.

But if they are to do that, they’ll need to at least match City’s superstars on the Upton Park turf, and even then it may not be enough to overturn a six-goal deficit.

Here are three key battles to look out for at Upton Park in the second-leg.

Mark Noble v Fernandinho

Mark Noble has been one of West Ham’s only consistent performers this season and was instrumental in their 2-0 Premier League victory at Cardiff City.

His love for the club shines through whenever he plays and he’s always found getting stuck in all over the pitch, winning tackles and driving the team forward.

Fernandinho has perhaps been one of City’s quieter performers this season, but that’s not to say he hasn’t performed at all.

And with Samir Nasri now sidelined for up to eight weeks with a ligament injury, the Brazilian will be called upon more often to keep City’s engine room ticking, starting with their trip to Upton Park.

Stewart Downing v Gael Clichy

As one of West Ham’s most experienced players, Downing’s responsibilities have grown somewhat since the Hammers began freefalling in the Premier League and getting beaten in cup competitions.

That said, his ability to whip a good cross in is second to none and, if he can get the better of Clichy on the night then his service will be very difficult to contain, particularly with West Ham’s ever improving forward line.

Clichy’s pace will arguably be key here, with Downing being the quickest of the wingers, his job will be to contain Downing and to show him as far wide as possible, closing down the angles.

Andy Carroll v Vincent Kompany

Having made his long awaited return from injury against Cardiff last weekend, Carroll is expected to be used as Sam Allardyce’s focal point for the remainder of the season, providing he stays fit.

With the England striker in the side, West Ham are a completely different team. His ability to hold up play, as well as his eye for goal, is outstanding and he’ll be looking to make an impact in the second leg as a way of making up for lost time.

Kompany didn’t have a lot to do in the first leg as City ran riot, limiting the Hammers to just a couple of long-range attempts on goal. But he’ll have a busier night with Andy Carroll standing next to him and will have to nullify the England man’s threat early on, just as he’s used to doing most of the time, if City are to keep a clean sheet.

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