West Ham face Manchester United for the second time in four days when they head north to begin their Carabao Cup campaign.
After suffering late heartbreak on Sunday afternoon, David Moyes and his side will not only be looking to bounce back at Old Trafford but they will also be keen to better last season’s fourth-round exit.
With everyone available for selection, the 58-year-old boss has plenty to ponder before selecting his starting XI, particularly as it’s the third time they have played in a week, with a Premier League clash against Leeds on the horizon this weekend.
It could be a good opportunity for many of Moyes’ fringe and youth players to stake a claim, too.
From all of their summer signings, only Kurt Zouma and Nikola Vlasic have seen a proper run-out, meaning Alphonse Areola and Alex Kral are surely in line to start.
The 23-year-old, formerly of Everton, made his Premier League debut at the London Stadium on Sunday but a 6.31 rating suggests he struggled to have much of an impact – that’s the lowest of anyone to start for West Ham this term, via WhoScored.
In the absence of Michail Antonio, Vlasic was deployed out wide for the second successive game, having played in the same position for their win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League last Thursday.
Before he was hooked 22 minutes from time, the £27m-rated dynamo managed only 30 touches, which was the fewest of any starter, including goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and that’s just not what you’d expect from someone who is supposed to be a major creative outlet.
After all, he’s come in to replace the presence of loan sensation Jesse Lingard, who bagged the agonising winner at the weekend.
Vlasic himself knows that he will have to improve to keep his place in the side.
“The team was playing very well. I’ve only been here one week [after the international break] so I’m getting used to the team and the team are getting used to me,” he told the Irons’ official website.
Perhaps he needs a little bit more time to settle in before he’s handed the full reins in attacking midfield.
Recently described as “really impressive” by Moyes, Vlasic must be ruthlessly axed for the trip to Manchester United this evening. Right now, he’s holding them back in attack but expect that to change the more he settles in.
For now, the Hammers boss must make this bold call.