David Moyes is surely very concerned ahead of West Ham United hosting Chelsea with Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuku ruled out through injury.
That’s according to Claret & Hugh, who claim the duo are expected to be declared unfit for the Hammers’ clash with Thomas Tuchel’s side this Saturday.
Chelsea travel to the London Stadium looking to pull three points clear of the Irons in the race for Champions League qualification, having moved ahead into fourth place after being held to a goalless draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday.
The Blues presently sit above West Ham only on goal difference having conceded less frequently thus far, and the Hammers falling to a 3-2 defeat at relegation-threatened Newcastle United last time out.
Moyes was without both Cresswell and Masuaku at St. James’ Park due to hamstring issues, seeing that academy product Ben Johnson was recalled to start a Premier League game for only the fifth time this term.
Johnson will now likely retain his position at full-back for the visit of Chelsea to east London with Moyes not expected to receive positive updates on Cresswell or Masuaku, while Craig Dawson will also be absent through suspension.
Masuaku is understood to be an injury doubt for the Blues clash due to having fluid on his knee, although it is not claimed whether or not the issue relates to the career-saving surgery he underwent in December.
Cresswell is due to be absent as a result of the hamstring injury he sustained early in the second half of his side’s 3-2 win at home to Leicester City earlier this month, but is touted for a return away to Burnley on May 1st.
Moyes will surely be very concerned by the prospect of facing Chelsea without Cresswell or Masuaku, who have opened 16 and 11 of West Ham’s 32 Premier League fixtures at left-back or left-wing-back this term.
Johnson performed promisingly as the stand-in at Newcastle and proved to be Moyes’ real positive of the day, despite falling to a 3-2 defeat when Joe Willock outleaped the 21-year-old to head home the Magpies’ winning effort.
The Irons product made a joint game-high three successful tackles with Tomas Soucek and the Toon’s Federico Fernandez at St. James’ Park, and proved to be his side’s most creative option with three key passes – only Allan Saint-Maximin (5) offered more, per WhoScored.
But his role in Willock’s goal will have raised some concerns over Johnson’s readiness to thwart a Champions League-chasing opponent, especially one in Chelsea who strike 16% of their shots from the right-wing for the Premier League’s second-most to Leicester (18%).
Former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown was also highly critical of Johnson’s efforts in the other direction against Manchester United last month in what was his previous start, telling BBC Radio 5 Live:
“Moyes has told him regularly now: ‘go on, push on, be that outlet out wide at the top of the pitch’. I think he is frightened to do it. We will see how long that lasts because Moyes has told him to do it three times now.”
With Cresswell also West Ham’s lead assister maker with seven and creator with an average of 1.4 key passes per Premier League game this term, Moyes may need Johnson playing on the front foot against Chelsea – it just remains to be seen if he can do to the Blues what he did at Newcastle.