Expect some rather big changes to West Ham’s starting XI for this match as David Moyes desperately needs to nab three points amidst a rather depressing run of fixtures. First, the Foxes.
Starting with formation, Moyes should really stick with his 4-4-2, the high pressing team against a Leicester side that have not been their first-half selves in 2020. The 3-5-2 formation he likes to use clearly hasn’t been grasped as tightly by the team and they can’t figure out how to pressure defenders in it. To remedy this, stick with the 4-4-2.
Now that formation should be drilled down, the back four and keeper pick themselves. Pablo Zabaleta is the no-contest starter, and this formation allows him to not sprint as far up the pitch as regularly as a wingback position would require. The same goes for Aaron Cresswell, who is better used as a fullback.
While Manuel Lanzini‘s vanishing act against Everton was a great magic trick, if he isn’t going to show up against Leicester he deserves a spot on the bench. This should hopefully see Pablo Fornals return to the starting XI with another new addition too…
Here it is, the predicted XI to start against Leicester City:
Zabaleta – Diop – Ogbonna – Cresswell
Snodgrass – Noble – Rice – Fornals
Ajeti – Haller
Bench: Martin, Reid, Cardoso, Ngakia, Masuaku, Lanzini, Antonio
Albian Ajeti is the big addition to the starting XI after his way-too-late replacement of Lanzini against Everton. In his 6+ minutes of play, he impacted the game more than Lanzini, albeit with the threat of a red card after throwing his head back a bit into his marking defender. With red card threat gone, Ajeti should be a starter now; let’s see what we’ve got in him.
As mentioned, Fornals is due to return to the lineup. Brought in as an attacking midfielder, Fornals has played his best football on the left side of the pitch, so that’s exactly where he should be started. His tenacity and desire to get into the box will also help support Sebastien Haller, too. Fornals scored his first and only Premier League goal against Leicester on December 28th, so let’s hope lightning can strike twice!
This team is strong enough to beat an underfiring Leicester team, and if the likes of Ajeti and Fornals can take their chances at first-team football, it also eases the pressure on forcing Michail Antonio back into action and lesses the loss of Felipe Anderson who is out longterm.
Lastly, Arthur Masuaku is the lynchpin of this team. His versatility to play left-back, wingback, and attacking midfield makes him a key bench player to be deployed as needed. Speed will be the name of the game, especially off the bench, Masuaku can be Moyes’ secret weapon here.