West Ham United need just one point to seal a place in the Europa League next season and standing in their way are Southampton.
David Moyes and his side welcome the mid-table outfit to East London this evening for the final match of the 2020/21 campaign and they’ll be looking to cap off a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.
It was only last season that the Scotsman guided the Irons to safety with one game to spare, now they’re one game from being a European-competing club.
Given how crucial this encounter is for the Hammers, Moyes will need to make sure his squad are fired-up, though he could look to deploy that back-five formation that has served them so well throughout the campaign.
It’ll shore up the defence and could combat the relentless press of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side. They just need that point.
West Ham ran out victorious in midweek, defeating already relegated West Brom 3-1 in the Midlands but amidst some quality performances, there was one downside – Pablo Fornals.
As per SofaScore, he was rated as Moyes’ worst-performing player (6.2) and struggled to have much of an impact on that right-flank. The Spanish playmaker failed to deliver a single accurate cross, failed to pull off three dribbles, and lost a whopping 75% of his 16 duels.
Furthermore, he was dribbled past three times and handed the ball back to the Baggies 17 times, the most of any attacking Hammers player.
Whether Moyes sticks with that 4-2-3-1 formation or reverts back to a five-man defence, Fornals just shouldn’t be playing out wide, especially on the right.
If he’s in need of an option there then he must turn to Jarrod Bowen – after all, it is his natural role.
Fornals has been lauded both “a top player” and “incredible” throughout West Ham’s phenomenal season but considering his last outing and the need to get a point on board, Moyes must show no mercy and ruthlessly axe him from the starting XI today.
The £26m-rated maestro may feel a little hard done by but it should help the Irons towards the result they need.
AND in other news, West Ham handed fresh injury blow ahead of Southampton clash…