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West Ham V Man City at Upton Park : Match Preview
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has drawn encouragement from Manchester City's defensive frailties as he prepares to welcome the Barclays Premier League champions to Upton Park.
Roberto Mancini's City have conceded 22 goals in all competitions so far this season, having let in only 29 league goals in the entire title-winning campaign last year.
Allardyce has seen his side pick up 14 points from their opening nine league games since gaining promotion back to the top flight, but despite pinpointing City's problems at the back, he is in no doubt that his side need to perform well to get a result.
He said: "I'm surprised (by City's start) but yet again there have been a few changes and a few players he has lost through injury and that disrupts what was his renowned back four for last season.
"He (Mancini) has tried a different style, a different system, he has lost (Nigel) de Jong who used to give them that protection.
"It is a bit more encouraging - I watched Swansea last week and they were very impressive against them but still at the end of the day they didn't get anything out of the game.
"When you are driving down the motorway or leaving Upton Park it is no good saying `what a good performance' if you have lost, so you have to get a result if you have given a good performance and that is what we are looking for."
The Hammers are still missing a number of key personnel and Allardyce is not anticipating any of his crocked stars will make a return inside a fortnight.
"They're not very close," he said.
"Guy Demel has had a small-ish hernia operation. We hope that will only keep him out for a couple of weeks more. (Ricardo) Vaz Te's shoulder too...We've got a bit of a problem with Matt Taylor's calf I think.
"They're the ones in particular. Joey (O'Brien) is obviously fit, Jack Collison is moving slowly towards starting training with the team - that's been a long haul for him."
Meanwhile, Mancini has declared himself happy with his position at Manchester City but did not deny reports that he was close to leaving last season.
Claims emerged this week that the Italian had spoken to wealthy French Ligue 2 outfit Monaco with a view to joining them for this season.
Mancini subsequently guided City to the Barclays Premier League title and then signed a five-year contract to remain at the Etihad.
Addressing the reports, Mancini said: "Last year I was very close with seven or eight teams but I prefer to stay here.
"I have worked well here for three years. If someone thinks we didn't do a good job - we won three trophies in two years. I am very happy we worked well.
"Now, the next three or four years will be very important for us."
The wealth of City and accompanying expectations have placed Mancini under a lot of pressure but, despite making reference himself to interest from other clubs, he insisted he was not uncertain about his future.
The former Lazio and Inter Milan boss said: "No, my future, I thought always this (that he would stay).
"I signed a contract for the next five years because I believe in this squad, because I can work with serious people like the owner and the chairman.
"To work with these people is fantastic. In football it is difficult to find people who work well with the manager. For me it is a fantastic situation. Now, I think we have time to improve and build a team."
City still have a lengthy injury list but things have eased slightly with midfielder Javi Garcia (thigh) and full-back Pablo Zabaleta (hamstring) now available while James Milner returns after suspension.
But midfielders David Silva and Jack Rodwell (both hamstring) and defender Maicon (foot) are still out and have been joined by full-back Micah Richards.
The England international suffered a knee injury against Swansea last weekend that resulted in him being carried off with an oxygen mask over his face, and Richards then said he feared a lay-off of up to four months after going under the knife.
But Mancini predicted Richards could be back in three weeks, saying: "I think maybe - it is my opinion - three or four weeks. I read three months but I don't know why. One month - maximum."
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