West Ham United will travel to Manchester City on Saturday with a near fully-fit squad, as boss David Moyes looks to strengthen the London Stadium natives’ place in the Champions League positions.
The Irons moved up to fourth in the Premier League standings with a 2-1 win over rivals Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, but face a huge hurdle away to the Citizens who have won their last 19 games across all competitions.
City have further lost just once all season when playing at the Etihad Stadium, with their sole defeat coming against Leicester in September. West Ham held Pep Guardiola’s title-chasers to a 1-1 draw in October, snapping a 10-game losing streak against the Sky Blues.
So, as Moyes strives to keep the Hammers inside the top-four and secure a rare win, here’s a potential line-up that West Ham could name away to Manchester City…
West Ham will boast a near fully-fit squad at the Etihad on Saturday as Moyes is facing no major new injury concerns, with Arthur Masuaku, Andriy Yarmolenko and Angelo Ogbonna the sole long-term absentees in the Irons camp.
Michail Antonio returned to the first-team picture and scored his sixth goal of the season last time out against Tottenham following a two-game absence with fatigue, though Ryan Fredericks has required treatment this week with a groin issue.
“We seem okay at the moment,” Moyes said on Friday. “We’re still waiting on Arthur Masuaku coming back and Andriy Yarmolenko still has his medial ligament injury too.
“Ryan Fredericks has picked up a little bit of a groin strain, which is not serious, but he’s touch and go [for Manchester City], so we’ll need to see how he is today [Friday] after training.”
West Ham being without any major new injury concerns will afford Moyes the chance to keep faith with the XI which faced and beat Tottenham, but could revert to a three-man defence after taking a battering at home to Jose Mourinho’s struggling Spurs side.
The North Londoners recorded 20 shots on goal at the London Stadium last Sunday to the four taken by Irons players, yet directed just four on target, per WhoScored.
Moyes could look to address his side’s openness at the back with the addition of a third centre-half, potentially allowing for Fabian Balbuena to earn his first top-flight start since falling out of the side in December.
The 29-year-old – who former Scotland defender Alan Hutton described as “excellent” earlier in the season – helped the Hammers keep four clean sheets during his 12 Premier League appearances this term.
Moyes would be expected to reduce his offence from four players to three in line with the addition of an additional centre-back, placing Pablo Fornals’ position in the XI at risk.
Fornals, who earns £67,000-per-week following his £24m move from La Liga outfit Sevilla in the summer of 2019, offered heaps of energy and had a hand Jesse Lingard’s third West Ham goal against Tottenham.
But the Spaniard would be likely to fall behind Lingard and Jarrod Bowen in Moyes’ pecking order, given the Spurs clash marked his first appearance in three Premier League games after playing just six minutes throughout February before taking to the pitch last Sunday.
Balbuena potentially taking Fornals’ place in the starting line-up will be the only change from the 2-1 Tottenham win expected from West Ham away to Manchester City.