David Moyes must wield the axe on Sebastien Haller and unleash Andriy Yarmolenko when West Ham United host Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
The Irons will be without star forward Michail Antonio for the London Derby as he continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury, having developed a second issue of the season upon his return to action against Aston Villa.
Haller has led the line whilst Moyes has been without Antonio, but once again saw the Ivory Coast international struggle as the sole striker in Friday’s victory over Leeds United.
Even captain Declan Rice appeared to be exasperated with the Hammer’s £45million record signing, noting after the game: “Seb could have set me twice for two tap-ins, literally in the six-yard box. I would have scored.”
Moyes is now being tipped to make changes at striker when West Ham host Crystal Palace, with Claret and Hugh suggesting Said Benrahma could be moved into the forward role after earning his maiden Irons start at Leeds.
The 31-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty and has not been seen on the pitch since October’s 2-1 loss at Liverpool, where he played the final 16 minutes at centre-forward after replacing Haller to bring his tally for the Premier League term thus far to just 97 minutes.
Moyes has confirmed Yarmolenko is fit and ready to play again but chose against including the outcast forward in his matchday plans at Elland Road last time out.
“Yarmolenko has trained the last few days and he is recovering and, like anybody else who has had the virus, it goes in different stages and you’re not sure how quickly they can recover as they recover at different speeds,” said Moyes.
“Some are very quick, and some might take a little bit longer, but the good news is he’s back, he’s fit, he’s healthy and he’s been training the last couple of days.”
With Haller still struggling to cope with the duties of being West Ham’s sole centre-forward, Moyes must see fit to axe the underperforming Ivory Coast international and take a punt on handing Yarmolenko his first start of the top-flight season against Crystal Palace.
Only when the ex-Borussia Dortmund man is given a lengthy run in the line-up will Moyes know for sure if he can rely on Yarmolenko at centre-forward, as brief cameo’s in the dying stages of fixtures will not paint a true image of his potential.
Starting the £115,000-per-week attacker Moyes lauds as a “very talented player” could also help Yarmolenko save his London Stadium future, amid reports the Hammers are again looking to offload his salary though are yet to receive any offers.