David Moyes can avoid a stale West Ham United against Aston Villa on Monday night by axing the underperforming Pablo Fornals and handing a first Premier League start to Said Benrahma.
Fornals has opened all nine of the Irons’ top-flight fixtures thus far this season as Moyes’ preferred left-sided midfielder, but has failed to build on his goal at Liverpool and is now five appearances without a league assist after an influential display at Leicester last month.
Benrahma, meanwhile, continues to wait in the wings for his maiden start in claret and blue, with the Algerian only introduced from the bench twice since joining the Hammers on loan for a total of 19 minutes.
Moyes opted against naming Benrahma in the starting line-up for last weekend’s 1-0 win at Sheffield United as he felt Fornals had been performing at an undroppable level, yet could not see the Spaniard he lauds as a “really valuable” option reach those heights at Bramall Lane.
Fornals struck just a single shot on Aaron Ramsdale’s net, despite the Irons enjoying 15 efforts to the Blades’ nine, while only offering one key ball, one accurate cross, two duels won and zero successful dribbles, per SofaScore.
Jarrod Bowen enjoyed much more influence on the opposing side of the field, with the former Hull City ace penning three key balls, attempting four shots and completing two of his dribbles.
Only Angelo Ogbonna (48) and Lukasz Fabianski (33) registered fewer touches than Fornals (42) of those who started for West Ham, too, and yet Benrahma – who contributed to 27 goals for Brentford last term – was not the one Moyes turned to in the 76th-minute to replace the Spaniard.
Benrahma should be the one Moyes names in the starting line at home to Aston Villa come Monday night, though, as persisting with Fornals amid his drop in form will see the Scot risk fielding a tame offence.
Were Fornals to start again and Aston Villa neutralise the threat Bowen offers, West Ham could find themselves starved of creativity with only Aaron Cresswell (45 minutes), Sebastien Haller (60.8), Vladimir Coufal (67.5) and Arthur Masuaku (102.6) better than the Spanish (105.7) and English (126.3) wide men for time between key passes in the Premier League, per WhoScored, of those who started against Sheffield United.
But Moyes can solve those fears by starting Benrahma as the 25-year-old, dubbed a “real magician” by his former OGC Nice teammate Lorenzo Vinci, averaged a key pass every 39.3 minutes and a shot every 21.8 in the Championship for Brentford last season.