West Ham United make their Europa League group stage debut when they take on Dinamo Zagreb in Group H later this evening.
David Moyes and his side will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the 2021/22 campaign with a victory in Croatia, where around 2,000 travelling supporters will witness history.
But with a congested fixture list in the coming weeks, the Scot is left with plenty to ponder in terms of team selection, especially as they face league leaders Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
The Irons were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw with Southampton last weekend, a game which saw Michail Antonio sent off, though the 31-year-old talisman is available for this encounter.
None of West Ham’s summer signings made their debut at St Mary’s, so surely a few will feature at the Maksimir Stadium today.
One player that Moyes ought to turn to is £29.8m addition Kurt Zouma, who has bags of experience in Europe, having clinched the Champions League trophy with Chelsea only a few months ago.
The performances of veteran Craig Dawson have come under the spotlight in recent weeks and since the Frenchman has arrived, the clamour to make a change will only increase tenfold.
Speaking on a recent episode of ‘The West Ham Way’ podcast, ever-reliable insider ExWHUemployee urged Moyes to make the switch as soon as possible.
“I think, personally, now that we’ve got Zouma, it is the right time for Dawson to go on the subs bench and you can take that as harsh or you can take that as not harsh, it depends which way I argue it,” he said.
“This season, I don’t think he was terrible against Southampton, there was a couple of times when I thought oh my gosh, really heart in the mouth moments and he’s probably the centre-back out the two of them, out of [Angelo] Ogbonna, that I trust the least.”
Last term, the £28.8m-rated colossus won a whopping 3.6 aerial duels per game and only three other centre-backs in the whole league were better with the ball at his feet, having averaged a 90.6% passing accuracy, via WhoScored.
Those returns would’ve exceeded every single West Ham player and the rest of his numbers are a sheer upgrade on Dawson, who averaged one fewer aerial duel won as well as fewer tackles per game, via WhoScored.
This experience and skillset is exactly what Moyes needs in what will be a tricky atmosphere in Croatia.
The Hammers boss must look to axe Dawson in favour of Zouma this evening.