West Ham United visit Southampton on Tuesday night as David Moyes’ side play their second game in 48 hours after salvaging a point at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Irons endured an abysmal opening 45 minutes at the London Stadium on Sunday but changes at the break allowed for a second-half resurgence, once Moyes accepted that he got his tactics wrong at first.
Moyes had sought to find a new balance in his squad whilst without Michail Antonio and Arthur Masuaku, and will again be without the pair when the Hammers travel to St. Mary’s after confirming that his lead striker is only nearing a return.
Moyes will likely consider changes to his starting line-up against Southampton in search of an end to the east London outfit’s three-game winless run. So, with that in mind, here’s a potential XI the Scottish coach may favour…
Two games in 48 hours will heighten Moyes’ awareness of the need to rest and rotate his favoured options, yet, he will likely name the same backline that drew with Brighton on Sunday after seeing Ben Johnson steal the show while deputising for Masuaku at left-back.
Fabian Balbuena hardly put a foot wrong as the right-sided centre-half in a three-strong backline, while Aaron Cresswell and Vladimir Coufal worked tirelessly to protect Lukasz Fabianski’s net, though soft defending from Angelo Ogbonna allowed Neal Maupay to break the deadlock.
Tomas Soucek proved Moyes’ saviour in midfield by netting the Irons’ second equalising effort, while Declan Rice will be expected to maintain his 100% Premier League starting record despite struggling at home to the Seagulls.
Mark Noble is unlikely to be granted the same treatment after being hauled off at the break once Moyes accepted the errors of his ways, which frustrated Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.
“I watched the game on Monday Night Football [vs Chelsea] and I thought his inclusion was a little bit unnecessary. Even today, looking at it, nothing against Mark Noble, he’s been a fantastic player, but it just looks like there could have been another attacking player,” Neville said during his co-commentary of the Brighton clash (27/12, 14:16).
Noble should be replaced by Manuel Lanzini after a strong second-half showing from the Argentine who Garth Crooks once described as a “sorcerer’s apprentice”.
Pablo Fornals may also be in contention for a recall after being rested against Brighton, though is likely to see Jarrod Bowen favoured in a slight tactical shift with Moyes moving the winger back out wide after struggling to partner Sebastien Haller as a striker on Sunday.
AND in other news, West Ham are scouting a three-goal full-back coaches “absolutely love”.