West Ham return to Premier League action on Saturday, but face the sternest of tests as they travel to the runaway train that is Manchester City.
The Hammers are second in the calendar year form table, winning seven of the nine games they’ve played in 2021 to maintain an unlikely Champions League qualification push.
Their progress under David Moyes has been remarkable, but West Ham’s form seems relatively mediocre when compared with City. Pep Guardiola’s side have won all 11 Premier League games they’ve played this year – scoring 29 goals, and conceding just three – and have chalked up a record-breaking 19 wins in a row across all competitions.
West Ham travel to Manchester with a few ongoing injury concerns, but there’s hope that Michail Antonio will be okay to play the full 90 minutes after scoring on his return from a hamstring niggle last Sunday against Tottenham.
The news isn’t so good for Angelo Ogbonna, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Arthur Masuaku, all of whom remain sidelined, while Ryan Fredericks’ possible involvement is in doubt after Moyes confirmed he is “touch and go” with a groin problem.
A change in shape is likely for the Hammers in attempt to stifle City’s scintillating attack, so here’s how Moyes could – and perhaps should – set his side up come kick off.
Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – Rarely puts a foot wrong in the Hammers goal, though may have been disappointed to see Lucas Moura’s header sneak in at the near post against Tottenham.
Craig Dawson (CB) – Rock solid and dependable, you’d do well to find many better performers than Dawson this season.
Issa Diop (CB) – Has stepped in to replace the injured Angelo Ogbonna well, reminding West Ham fans why he was once linked with a big money moves to Manchester United and Tottenham.
Aaron Cresswell (CB) – Has shown great versatility this season, flexing between playing as a left-sided centre back and an attack minded full-back. Should be the former of the two options here.
Vladimir Coufal (RWB) – You could probably play Czech Republic international Coufal anywhere on the pitch and he’d perform well. Always gives 100%, relentless harrying opponents and closing down.
Declan Rice (CM) – Keeps things ticking along in midfield, but the emphasis here should be on strong defensive foundations. Rice’s exceptional reading of the play and high number of interceptions could prove key.
Tomas Soucek (CM) – Like Coufal, is yet to really put in a bad performance for West Ham. Took a nasty blow to the face last week and just laughed it off, despite being a crimson mess. A true fan favourite.
Ben Johnson (LWB) – Was unfortunate not to keep his place against Tottenham, but a change of shape from Moyes ultimately paid dividends. Still, a huge opportunity to shine against the best of the best here.
Jarrod Bowen (RW) – Set up the opening goal against Tottenham with a delicious cross, looking back to his old self after some rather mediocre displays. Has to be full of running and willing to help Coufal down the right.
Michail Antonio (ST) – West Ham are a completely different side with Antonio leading the line, owing to his superb work rate and willingness to come short or run in behind. Won’t see much of the ball, so must have the blinkers on and remain focused.
Jesse Lingard (LW) – Likely to drift in from the left side to get involved more, Lingard’s high energy should give City’s backline and defensive midfielders something to think about. His United connection is an obvious motivator to impress again.