West Ham United travel to fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur later today in the Premier League with both sides well in the race for European qualification.
The Hammers sit in sixth, level on 48 points with Spurs in seventh, although Antonio Conte’s side do have a game in hand.
However, they go into the match with just 48 hours of rest having famously beaten Spanish outfit Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday night, with the contest going to extra-time.
With nine league matches to go as well as at least two more games in Europe as David Moyes’ side take on French side Olympique Lyon in the quarter-final, the East London club are now in their season’s crunch period, and the next couple of weeks could decide whether or not they will secure European football for next season.
Today’s meeting with Tottenham is of significant magnitude given the current placings of both sides, meaning that Moyes has to get his team selection spot on. However, having had a good chunk of his squad play 120 minutes on Thursday, the Scotsman may be keen to make a few alterations.
One change that could certainly be made is the expulsion of winger Said Benrahma from the starting lineup, who has blown hot and cold of late.
The Algerian did provide two assists in the 2-1 win against Aston Villa last weekend, however, the 26-year-old hadn’t offered a goal contribution prior since New Year’s Day.
After a strong start to the season, Benrahma’s form in front of goal has certainly tailed off. Having scored three goals and registered two assists in his first five appearances of the Premier League season, the 26-year-old has since scored just twice in the top-flight, with those goals coming in back-to-back games against Southampton and Watford at the end of December.
Last season saw the former Brentford man struggle in the final third too in his first season as a Hammer, taking until mid-May to score his sole goal for Moyes’ side despite making the move from West London to East London for a significant fee of £20m.
Of course, the £22.5m-rated Algeria international has improved, however, the lack of consistency must be infuriating for Moyes and the West Ham faithful, especially given how talented the playmaker can be on his day.
This was a topic the Scotsman discussed in his column in the Evening Standard last season after a game against Burnley, saying: “Said Benrahma also did well the other night [against Burnley].
“I am looking for more consistency from him, though, in his level of training and in the step up to the Premier League.
“He demonstrated in the Championship with Brentford what he is capable of achieving and he will be able to do it in the Premier League.
“His decisions have to be something we can all understand and we can read, and I actually think he needs to hit the target more often than he has done.”
Comfortable on either side of a three-man attacking line, Benrahma can be suitably replaced by fellow winger Andriy Yarmolenko, who is certainly within a shout of starting a game soon having come off of the bench to score in the Hammers’ last two matches.
The Ukrainian celebrated both goals emotionally amid the ongoing conflict in his home country and will surely be in contention to play from the off.
It is absolutely vital that Moyes picks the right side today given the significance of the match. Having played their biggest game of the season so far on Thursday, the trip to Spurs is certainly the Hammers’ biggest league match of the campaign thus far, with the race for Europe still in their hands.