David Moyes will need Issa Diop to step up against Arsenal on Sunday after confirming that West Ham United will remain without Angelo Ogbonna for the London derby.
Diop started beside Craig Dawson at Old Trafford as West Ham returned to face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side last Sunday, but struggled in the face of relentless pressure.
Manchester United ran out 1-0 victors to deal West Ham their second defeat in three games, leaving Moyes “disappointed” that his side could not take a point and move level in fourth place with Chelsea, albeit with a game in hand.
Moyes is now facing a number of injury concerns ahead of hosting Arsenal at the London Stadium on Sunday, but is hopeful of seeing some players leave the treatment room soon.
“We’ve got just about everybody the same [as last week],” Moyes said on Friday. “Pablo Fornals is improving, and, on the injury front, Angelo Ogbonna is closing in and getting much closer to fitness but he’s a wee bit away.
“Arthur Masuaku and Andriy Yarmolenko are both getting much closer, as well, so hopefully, it won’t be too long until we’re back to a full squad.”
Moyes being without Ogbonna against Arsenal will see the West Ham boss need Diop to step up after his challenges at containing Manchester United last week, with the pace and direct running of Mason Greenwood proving particularly problematic for the Frenchman.
Diop was all too often indecisive in how to restrict the 19-year-old, and left his teammates woefully exposed midway through the second half when caught in possession to leave the Red Devils breaking four-on-two.
The centre-back’s blushes were ultimately spared thanks to a poor pass from Dan James to Bruno Fernandes, with the Wales international unable to pick out the Portuguese maestro and settle the tie following Dawson’s unfortunate own goal.
Moyes cannot afford to see Diop have two back-to-back poor performances, with Sunday’s game marking West Ham’s match in hand over Chelsea while the Blues face Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Diop had previously impressed since stepping in for Ogbonna to give Moyes confidence that the £67,000-per-week enforcer can bounce back, with Jose Mourinho lauding him as being “brilliant” as West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur last month.
AND in other news, a West Ham winter target is set to be available for £17m this summer…