West Ham United will be looking to break into the top-six in the Premier League when they welcome local rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the London Stadium this afternoon.
David Moyes’ side extended their 100% record in the Europa League on Thursday night after defeating Belgian outfit Genk 3-0, so they will head into kickoff buoyed by confidence.
And one of the standout performers from that encounter ought to feature today in Issa Diop.
The 24-year-old centre-back has slipped down the pecking order even more since the arrival of fellow countryman Kurt Zouma in the summer transfer window but he has been given opportunities outside of the Premier League and has pretty much impressed each time.
Diop’s four appearances across the Europa League and Carabao Cup have returned four clean sheets. By comparison, the Hammers have kept just two in their eight league outings so far this campaign.
Therefore, it could be wise to unleash the Frenchman with the likes of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son heading to east London.
Neither of Moyes’ first-choice league pairing of Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna are managing more than 0.9 tackles per outing. That will need to improve if they are to stop Kane and Spurs’ top-scorer, Son.
This is why Diop must be considered, perhaps taking the place of the latter, as he and the Champions League winner looked excellent together against Dinamo Zagreb.
However, that looks to be changing.
“I thought Diop was absolutely magnificent,” claimed Irons assistant manager Stuart Pearce, via The Athletic, after their 1-0 win over Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.
“The longer the game went on the more of a colossus he looked at the back and he’s still in relative terms, a very young man for a central defender so we’re absolutely delighted to have Issa at this club.”
Son has bagged four goals already this campaign, also averaging 2.9 shots and 1.4 dribbles per game, whilst Kane is threatening to add to his solitary strike with an average of 2.4 shots per match, via WhoScored.
Evidently, Moyes needs a rock at the back to put a stop to the pair running riot at the London Stadium, which is why Diop should be selected this afternoon.