You’d be hardpressed to find any player who looked good against Newcastle for West Ham, but a late-game surge suggests this trio should start.
For West Ham, opening day losses are nothing new. That being said, the Hammers usually have a top-six team to face with the deck stacked against them. With Newcastle to start, this team should have been raring to go, but instead, they looked flat, disinterested, and unwilling to go the extra mile on the pitch.
A trio of substitutions in the late game, however, did change the script. Michail Antonio was joined in attack by Sebastien Haller at striker, Andriy Yarmolenko at right-mid, and eventually Felipe Anderson at left-mid. While the score remained 0, the quartet looked threatening and ready to make an impact.
Sebastien Haller – Dual Strikers
West Ham’s record signing will frustrate plenty with his apparent work rate, but when the ball is in the box, there is no one more dangerous than him. West Ham have tried and failed with Haller isolated as a solo striker, so the answer becomes clear – play him as the big man in a striker duo.
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The big question becomes, who plays alongside him? Despite selling two strikers and not replacing them this offseason there are still two valid options. The first is Michail Antonio, the best-attacking options the Hammers have. The second is Jarrod Bowen, the speedster who can run the channels for Haller.
Either way, the other would be left as an impact sub to bring pace to the second half of the game. Regardless of who plays beside him, Haller needs a partner and Haller needs to start. If you’re going to bench a player who cost £45m, just sell him instead.
Andriy Yarmolenko – Danger from Range
His injury concerns have sidelined Andriy Yarmolenko for the majority of two seasons, however, a massive impact at the end of last season and his threatening presence in the final minutes against Newcastle suggests he should be a more regular attacking threat for the Hammers. The only problem is what to do with Jarrod Bowen.
What Yarmolenko brings is a devastating left boot that he can rip from range, and some terrific dribbling skills to create space for his teammates. If he doesn’t start, he should be used more regularly off the bench with greater minutes. He provides the deep shot that West Ham are missing in their attacking presence.
Felipe Anderson – Potential for Greatness
It is no coincidence that the Hammers looked more threatening when Felipe Anderson came on late for his six-minute run about. The player is shifty, creative, and willing to take risks in creating low percentage chances for the team. The biggest strike against Anderson is his defensive responsibility, but change the left-back and watch him flourish.
The Brazilian is a wasted talent on the bench for a team that cannot seem to create enough goalscoring chances. Playing Pablo Fornals out wide is a disservice to both players and Anderson should be the starter moving forward. We didn’t sell Grady Diangana to play a central attacking midfielder as a left-mid.
These three players are Manuel Pellegrini signings. These three players are not favourites of David Moyes. These three players need to play regardless of who is in charge of the team. The holding midfield partnership is strong enough to support this group, so the best attacking team needs to be assembled to actually spark some offence for West Ham.