David Moyes should ruthlessly axe Said Benrahma and recall Pablo Fornals to the West ham United starting line-up against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Fornals is expected to be passed fit for the Irons’ trip to Molineux on Monday night after two games out with a groin injury, that he had sustained ahead of a likely start away to Manchester United last month.
Benrahma featured as a substitute at Old Trafford before opening his side’s 3-3 draw with rivals Arsenal before the international break, for the 25-year-old’s 11th Premier League start since his arrival at the London Stadium in October.
Benrahma failed to have a direct influence on the scoring against the Gunners as his wait for a maiden goal in claret and blue continues, and is now six games without an assist across all competitions.
The £20m-rated maestro came close to ending his creative drought in the second half when Benrahma delivered a teasing ball across Arsenal’s six-yard box following a driven run between Pablo Mari and Thomas Partey, only for Michail Antonio to find the base of the post.
But the Algerian was the least involved of West Ham’s attacking options overall at home to Mikel Arteta’s north Londoners, while Jesse Lingard pulled the strings and Antonio offered two assists and often held the ball up wonderfully.
Benrahma occasionally displayed the defensive work-rate that has caught Moyes by surprise previously, but his efforts were too insufficient to prevent Calum Chambers from turning in a Man of the Match display thanks to a game-high eight crosses and creating three chances.
“I’ve had a bit of a laugh with him [Benrahma] because I’m saying to him: ‘I didn’t realise I’d signed a really hard-working midfield player who runs and closes down, and does all the defensive duties,’” Moyes said, via quotes by The Guardian, in February.
“I said: ‘I thought we got someone for assists and goal making.’ They’re the bits which I think he’s probably needed to improve. The other part has been excellent. I want team players here – I don’t want individuals – but Said’s been great for the team.”
With Fornals expected to be passed fit to face Wolves on Monday night, Moyes should now ruthlessly axe Benrahma for the Spaniard as the decision could prove game-changing in helping to shut down the right-wing of Nuno Espirito Santo’s plans.
Benrahma has been touted by Claret & Hugh as the most at-risk player to make way for Fornals, who Moyes has previously lauded for his “incredible” energy and enthusiasm – which was on show front and centre against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Leeds United before his injury.
Fornals also averages a higher number of successful tackles per Premier League game this season than Benrahma with 1.17 to the Algerian’s 0.76, as well as more interceptions (1.17 to 0.29) and clearances (0.17 to 0.1), per SofaScore.
Wolves favoured the right-hand channel more often during their last top-flight fixture, with four of their six key passes coming through Romain Saiss, Nelson Semedo and Adama Traore. Half of their 10 shots also came from that side, per WhoScored.
It was a similar story the week before away to Aston Villa with four of 10 shots and three of eight key passes coming from the right, where Fornals or Benrahma will likely be tasked with aiding Aaron Cresswell on Monday night.
Thus, if Fornals is fully fit and ready to go from the off, Moyes should see that he starts from the off, even if it means dropping Benrahma to the bench to make space.