West Ham United take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in the Premier League this evening, with the Hammers looking to consolidate their position in the top four with teams near them having games in hand.
David Moyes’ side are fourth after securing a 1-0 victory over Watford on Tuesday night in what wasn’t the most convincing performance from the east London outfit, with attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals particularly struggling to make an impact on the night.
With the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Nikola Vlasic also available, it’s time for Moyes to axe the Spaniard for the game against the Foxes and call upon an alternative option.
Moyes mentioned the 25-year-old in his pre-match comments ahead of the trip to the East Midlands, stating: “I think Pablo has had a bit of a dip from when he came back in November from the international break. I just hope that he is just starting to show small signs of improvements, but in terms of goals yes [we need more], it is a big thing and we need all of our attacking players to chip in and it would help if Pablo could come up with a few goals for us.”
However, the Scotsman did say that the midfielder impressed in the FA Cup victory over Kidderminster Harriers last week, saying: “I’ve got to say I think Pablo is starting to show signs of improving slightly. He made the goal at Kidderminster with a pass for Declan Rice, I thought the other night he was more influential in bits of the game, especially later on.”
The £18m-rated Spaniard has scored just once in his last 11 Premier League games after an impressive start to the campaign which saw him net four goals and register two assists within the same number of matches in the league.
Whilst Fornals has struggled of late, players in similar positions to the 25-year-old have thrived, particularly Jarrod Bowen on the right-hand side of the attacking midfield three. The Englishman has scored six goals in his last six appearances, currently making him West Ham’s most in-form player.
Along with Bowen, Manuel Lanzini is also starting to bear fruit from attacking midfield, netting a brace against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day and scoring in the FA Cup win over Leeds United last month, as well as setting up Bowen’s winning goal against Watford on Tuesday.
The final three months of the season will be crucial for the Hammers, not only in the league but with the FA Cup and Europa League to contest as well. Champions League qualification is the club’s main goal for the rest of the campaign, something which Moyes’ side are still on course to achieve, with West Ham sat in fourth place going into their trip to Leicester today.
However, with teams near the Irons boasting games in hand, it’s vital that they now find some form to extend their advantage over their nearest rivals.
Therefore, there is very little room for error, and players like Fornals who aren’t chipping in when needed may have to be sacrificed if they can’t start pulling their weight.