Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United venture to the new White Hart Lane for the first time on Saturday to face the daunting task of trying to cause a shock against an in-form Tottenham Hotspur under Mauricio Pochettino, but there’s four key starting Xl changes the Hammers should make to give themselves some hope.
The quartet of alterations would mean changes in the defence, midfield and attack from last weekend’s disappointing Premier League home draw with Leicester City at the London Stadium.
At the back, it’s time for summer signing Ryan Fredericks to return at right-back in place of veteran Pablo Zabaleta and to the left of him at left centre-back, Issa Diop to do the same by replacing Angelo Ogbonna.
Looking further forward into the left centre of midfield, a rethink is also a must for Pellegrini here, giving Jack Wilshere his first start since early September 2018 by ousting Robert Snodgrass.
And finally, up front, lone striker Marko Arnautovic needs to be replaced by Lucas Perez.
Suggesting these changes to the starting team is all well and good but how exactly are they going to give the Irons a chance of pulling off an upset in north London?
Well, Fredericks at right-back rather than his mentor Zabaleta will give West Ham that much-needed pace to be able to cope with Heung-min Son.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the back four, centre-half performances have really let the side down in recent weeks. Pellegrini’s tried to make Ogbonna alongside Balbuena or Diop work and but it just hasn’t with at least two goals conceded in each of the last six matches.
It’s time to reunite Balbuena and Diop in the partnership that was working so well up until the former’s injury prior to Christmas.
Snodgrass started the term well in Claret & Blue but has since faded away and offered little more than the odd deadly set-piece. With Wilshere back, the 27-year-old desperately needs starts and the Scot will have to be the unlucky one to drop out in the centre – the weakest link.
Another incentive for Wilshere’s inclusion is his willingness to beat Spurs, bitter rivals of his former club Arsenal, and the same will apply for Perez, who should replace an out-of-sorts Arnautovic and bring form to the table after what should have been two goals against the Foxes.
Despite four alterations, Pellegrini shouldn’t waver from the 4-1-4-1 that was effective on home soil last time out as these are like-for-like changes, ones that will give his team the best possible chance of taking something back to east London.