5 Key Things to Watch For: West Ham vs Sheffield United

Michail Antonio, West Ham. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Michail Antonio, West Ham. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

West Ham United return from the International Break to take on the bottom of the table Blades in Matchweek nine.

After a dramatic victory against Fulham, West Ham will be hoping to make it two wins on the bounce when they take on Sheffield United. A win could see the Hammers jump into the top half of the Premier League table. Here are five things to watch for against the Blades.

Fitness Tests for Antonio & Ogbanna

Center Forward Michael Antonio and Defender Angelo Ogbanna both are coming off injuries. Much has been said and written about Antonio since he left the Man City match five weeks ago with another hamstring injury.

If he is ready to go, he goes right back into the starting XI for David Moyes. Sebastian Haller did nothing to make that position his own in Antonio’s absence. It would figure that Haller sees the pitch in this match somehow. Either because Antonio is not fit, or he is not to be risked for the full 90 minutes.

Angelo Ogbanna is arguably one of WHU’s top 3 players. He is coming off a groin injury. The move to three at the back has worked well because of Ogbanna’s play in the middle of Cresswell and Balbuena. If he can’t go, that would force Issa Diop back into the starting XI. Or, perhaps the club debut of Craig Dawson?

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West Ham Need all Three Points

The Hammers haven’t beaten Sheffield United at Brammall Lane in the top flight since 1968. 68!  That has to end this weekend. The Hammers are well above the Blades who occupy the bottom of the table and lead in GD over SU by 14, there are no excuses or playing for the point on the road here.

The Irons have started the season well despite a very difficult run of fixtures. Not only do they need to keep that positive momentum going, but they also can’t play down to the level of their opponents after playing so well recently against the top clubs.

All three points are expected and required.

Players Back from International Duty

West Ham's
West Ham's /

West Ham’s players coming back from International Duty also have positive momentum on their side.

Declan Rice scored his first goal as an England International. Tomas Soucek scored again for the Czech Republic. Right Back Vladamir Coufal was also part of that squad and played well defensively. Fabian Balbuena helped Paraguay remain unbeaten with a win over Bolivia. Sebastian Haller scored a goal in his debut for Ivory Coast.

This will be the last (thankfully) international break until 2021 now. The most important thing is that each of West Ham’s players came through without injury. (Andriy Yarmelenko is a COVID19 casualty and is under quarantine) But also can be a major boost to the club in League play when their players away on international duty play well for their countries.

Will Said Benrahma Make the Starting XI

Will he or won’t he?  Said Benrahma made the lone goal in the victory over Fulham happen.  Was that enough to show David Moyes that the newest WHU signing should get the start on the left side over Pablo Fornals?

He is going to start eventually. It’s just a matter of when and in place of whom.  No knock against Fornals here, but supporters want to see Benrahma from the opening whistle.

If Antonio isn’t fully fit and Haller is back in, that’s even more of a reason to insert Benrahma alongside him in the starting XI in this one.

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Where to Watch the match

UK: Sky Go UK / NOW TV / Sky Go Extra / Sky Sports Premier League, US: Peacock CAN: DAZN  MEX: Sky HD, CHN: QQ Sports Live and AUS: Optus Sports