David Moyes will be without striker Michail Antonio when West Ham host Manchester United on Saturday after the striker developed another hamstring injury.
The blow will force Moyes into recalling Sebastien Haller to once again lead the line for the London Stadium affair, having trusted the Ivory Coast international whilst previously without Antonio following the strain sustained at home to Manchester City in October.
Antonio has developed a fresh issue that Moyes does not believe was connected with his original gripe, but is unsure on the extent of the new problem.
“Michail is not going to be available for the game,” Moyes confirmed. “We’re not sure how long he’ll be [out]. Hopefully it’s not too bad, but he won’t be available for Saturday’s game.
“He’s still having a bit of a problem with his hamstring. It’s not the same injury. We think it’s something slightly different, which is the good news, so we’re hoping that he won’t be too long.”
Moyes has rarely made changes to his favoured starting line-up this season outside of enforced instances, but must consider rotating his XI for the visit of Manchester United.
So, with that in mind, here’s a line-up the Hammers boss could name against his former employer…
Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has featured between the sticks for all 10 of the Irons opening Premier League fixtures this season, as one of seven players boasting a 100 per cent starting record alongside Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals and Tomas Soucek.
Arthur Masuaku came into the line-up following Cresswell’s move to centre-half on matchday two, seeing Mr West Ham Mark Noble miss out on a role, while summer signing Vladimir Coufal replaced Ryan Fredericks following his £5.4million arrival.
Each may expect to start alongside Haller on Saturday as West Ham look to move third in the table with a win – albeit momentarily – with the Irons only losing once in their last eight top-flight fixtures and conceding more than once only to title-holders Liverpool since allowing three at Tottenham.
However, Moyes must consider making one additional change to his line-up by replacing Fornals, who struggled vastly at home to Aston Villa on Monday night.
Moyes has previously lavished praise on Fornals for his development since the Scottish coach’s return to east London, but continually urges the Spaniard to deliver more.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Moyes said, via quotes by football.london. “As you can see, we select him regularly, we select him because of his commitment, his attitude, his reliability and he’s grown on us a lot.
“There’s things we would like him to improve. We want him to make better final passes, we want him to score more, but I can think he’s become a really important part [of the team].”
Monday’s display was one matching Moyes’ concerns rather than praise, with Fornals failing to register a single shot on goal, deliver a key ball, completed just 68% of his passes, fail in his only attempted dribble and all four attempted tackles, while offering just one cross, per WhoScored.
Brentford loanee Said Benrahma entered the action for Masuaku at the break and will have felt he had done enough to warrant a start this weekend, as the Algerian offered one shot, one key ball, completed 80% of his passes, was successful with his only attempted dribble and was never dribbled past.
Moyes starting Benrahma against Manchester United on Saturday would mark the Algerian’s first inclusion in an opening line-up since moving to the London Stadium on a season-long loan featuring a £20m obligation to buy at the end of the campaign.