The Chalkboard: West Ham must solve their Mark Noble issue ahead of Liverpool clash

West Ham United host Premier League leaders Liverpool at the London Stadium on Monday night, and will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing 3-0 defeat against newly-promoted Wolves last time out.

Manuel Pellegrini’s squad is currently seriously depleted due to injuries, leaving him little room for change when it comes to his team selection, but he will be hoping his side can show the same grit and character that earned them home wins against Manchester United and Arsenal earlier in the season.

In order to stand a chance of victory though, the Hammers must get their tactical approach to this game spot on.

On the chalkboard

Club captain and veteran midfielder Mark Noble is likely to start against the Reds, especially as Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez are both unavailable due to injury. 

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However, despite being a hero to many Irons fans, Jurgen Klopp may consider the long-serving 31-year-old to be a weak point in the opposition that his side can exploit.

If asked to anchor the midfield, only alongside teenager Declan Rice, Noble’s lack of pace and mobility could be ruthlessly exposed by Liverpool’s rapid forward players and quick turnovers from defence to attack. Pellegrini must make a tactical compromise in order to offset this risk.

A third man

The Hammers have played with two strikers in recent games, but for this encounter, Pellegrini ought to drop a striker and instead pack out the middle of the park. 

With a three-man midfield, Noble’s lack of mobility and speed would be less of an issue, and instead, the experienced midfielder would be free to orchestrate counter-attacks from deep, ensuring that the home side maintain a threat to Liverpool’s own defence.

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