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Kouyate wary of "wounded animal"

Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate has warned West Ham must be ready to face a "wounded animal" at Manchester City on Sunday, but will be ready to inflict more pain on Manuel Pellegrini's men.

The Barclays Premier League champions have seen their title defence left in tatters following a run of four defeats in six matches, thrashed 4-2 at rivals United last weekend - a result which left the long-term future of manager Pellegrini in doubt as City might now face a scrap with Liverpool for a Champions League qualifying spot.

West Ham are also in need a pick-me-up, having seen victory slip through their fingers when Stoke netted a stoppage time equaliser at Upton Park.

Senegal midfielder Kouyate expects City to produce a response, but also one from Sam Allardyce's squad, who have failed to find consistency over the second half of the season to drop out of contention for the European places.

"Anything is possible in football, but we mustn't forget who we are up against. They are a wounded animal, because they need points, so they have to wake themselves up to win," Kouyate said on the club's official website,

"We need the points as well, because we want to remain in the top 10.

"It is not going to be easy because we will be up against one of the best teams in the country and last year's champions of England.

"If we are going to get anything there, we have to enjoy it and really play as a team and work as a team."

Kouyate added: "A team like Manchester City can't afford to make mistakes, so for us it's a good time to face them, but we mustn't underestimate them, there's life in them yet."

West Ham look short of options in attack.

Striker Enner Valencia is being assessed for a foot injury picked up on his return to action against Stoke, while Diafra Sakho, who has netted 12 goals in all competitions, is facing a battle to play again this season following a thigh strain.

Allardyce is hoping his team can produce the required level of concentration to accommodate their forward losses.

He said: "That leaves us very short on the front line with Andy (Carroll) being out, and means goals will be fewer and farther between than they used to be, so if we don't get that defensive side right then the last six games are going to be tough for us."

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