West Ham battled to a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Monday, with Javier Hernandez leading the line in Marko Arnautovic’s stead – the Austrian failed a late fitness test but will surely be back in contention for the clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday. He surely doesn’t walk back into the starting XI.
Everyone in claret and blue was impressive as the Irons held the league leaders at the London Stadium, with Michail Antonio scoring the equaliser after Sadio Mane – controversially – put his side ahead.
Hernandez played as a lone striker and struggled to get much joy – particularly with Reds giant Virgil van Dijk in the way – and, while he is a tidy finisher, he was not suited to his side’s approach at all on the day.
Arnautovic’s imminent return means the Mexican hitman is likely to be benched as the Hammers want to continue their comeback from a poor January in terms of results, but Manuel Pellegrini should not rush to drop the number 18.
West Ham looked to hit Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressing team on the counter by playing long-balls to bypass the Reds midfield but they lacked a physical presence up front to hold up the ball and bring the likes of Felipe Anderson into play.
In that game they desperately needed a man of Arnautovic’s stature up top, but Palace’s ability to deal with such strikers – James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho shackled Fulham’s Aleksandr Mitrovic expertly at the weekend – means that perhaps a nippy Chicharito is the more sensible option.
The Eagles defend quite passively and forego Liverpool’s intensity in their attempts to win the ball back, so West Ham and Hernandez will have much more time to get a foot on the ball and build their attacks – the 30-year-old has brilliant instinct and will find space in the box time after time again.
It would be a huge gamble to keep Arnautovic out of the line-up, particularly after his attempts to force a move away in January, but it might be a worthwhile one for Pellegrini to make.
Who is West Ham’s worst ever signing? Check out the video below for a pretty strong candidate for the dubious honour…