West Ham United host in-form Aston Villa this afternoon with the Hammers looking to consolidate their place in the top-six after Tottenham’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United yesterday.
David Moyes’ side have won just once in their last six matches across all competitions and will be looking to kick-start a strong end to the season with victory over Steven Gerrard’s Villa, who have won their last three league games.
But who will the Scotsman pick for the clash in East London? Here is how Football FanCast thinks West Ham will lineup.
Fabianski, Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice, Lanzini, Fornals, Antonio, Benrahma (4-4-3).
The first change from the Irons’ 1-0 defeat at Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday night comes in between the sticks as cup ‘keeper Alphonse Areola drops out in the place of first-choice Lukas Fabiański.
For the most part, the Polish goalkeeper has had a decent campaign, keeping seven clean sheets in the Premier League. However, there was an incident that left David Moyes “furious” earlier this season when the 36-year-old didn’t get contact on a kick against Manchester City.
There are no changes at the back with right-back Vladimir Coufal still sidelined with a groin injury which sees 22-year-old Ben Johnson keep his place.
In the midfield, there are no changes with the switch to a 4-3-3 adding stability in the middle of the park but also more opportunity to counter on the break, through the attacking talents of Manuel Lanzini.
The Hammers’ only striker in Michail Antonio expectedly keeps his place, as does Pablo Fornals on the left flank. However, after another quiet display in claret and blue, Nikola Vlasic drops out for Said Benrahma.
There is certainly talent there, with former CSKA Moscow manager Viktor Goncharenko labelling the 24-year-old as “magnificent” after scoring the sole goal in a famous Champions League win over Real Madrid in 2018.
As for Benrahma, the Algerian is yet to score since returning from the African Cup of Nations but has majorly improved in front of goal this term with eight goals and four assists in 35 appearances compared to three goals and seven assists in 36 appearances last season.
Every remaining game the East London outfit play this season is crucial if they’re serious about re-qualifying for European competition next season, with this afternoon’s game against Aston Villa no exception.