David Moyes has confirmed that West Ham United will be without midfielder Pablo Fornals against Arsenal on Sunday due to injury, which should prove beneficial for Jarrod Bowen.
Fornals was forced to sit out the Irons’ 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last week after sustaining a groin issue and is not expected to overcome the blow in time for the London derby.
The Spaniard had regained a regular role in Moyes’ plans before the Hammers’ trip to Old Trafford, with the 25-year-old starting three straight Premier League fixtures.
Fornals had only enjoyed a single six-minute cameo in West Ham’s previous three top-flight games before opening the action against Tottenham Hotspur last month, and remained in the side for subsequent meetings with Manchester City and Leeds United.
Moyes will once again be unable to field the £16.2m-rated playmaker when West Ham host Mikel Arteta’s Gunners this weekend, as one of several players due to be sidelined.
“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.”
The international break which follows Sunday’s London derby should prove vastly beneficial for West Ham with Ogbonna (ankle), Fornals, Masuaku and Yarmolenko (knee) all seemingly moving closer to making their returns from injuries.
However, as Arsenal’s visit to the London Stadium will likely prove too early for some if not all, those who featured yet struggled against Manchester United will likely be given a reprieve and the chance to prove their worth this weekend.
Bowen will almost certainly fall into that category after his efforts alongside Michail Antonio in a two-man strike partnership left Moyes vastly underwhelmed at Old Trafford.
“We thought tonight that the way we would play with two up, Jarrod and Michail as two forwards to start with, we thought that might give them a problem to start with, so I saw that as being positive in a different way,” Moyes said, via quotes by football.london.
“But ultimately, we got better as the game went on when we brought on Manu [Lanzini] and Said [Benrahma] I would say that. I would also say Man United might have been better than they were and that the team that was out did not concede any goals, only one from a set-piece at that time and it was only after that that you can judge it.”
Bowen should expect to be kept in the starting line-up against Arsenal as Moyes will be able to return the former Hull City forward to his natural wide position with Fornals unavailable.
A switch back to a 4-2-3-1 with Bowen on the right should help to see the £27m-rated maestro – who Darren Bent has described as an “example” for Said Benrahma to follow – find the form which eluded him last week and impressed Jamie Carragher earlier in the campaign.
“Bowen, he has been a brilliant signing for him [Moyes],” Carragher said on Sky Sports, via quotes shared by Hammers News, after scoring the winner against Aston Villa on November 30.
“He’s just one of those players, he always nicks a goal every three or four games, you just see him on the scoresheet. And again, he’s got a vital goal for them. He does really well on that right-side coming inside and he’s been a great signing for them.”
AND in other news, a West Ham winter target is set to be available for £17m this summer…