Coming fresh out of an exhaustingly long international break, David Moyes could experiment with new players in West Ham’s starting XI at Bramall Lane.
The most important thing that could happen in West Ham’s first week back from the international break is that the starting XI and matchday squad pick up from where they left off, regardless of who starts. The 1-0 win over Fulham showed the team’s resiliency in a dominant effort on the back of consistently strong play against the Premier League’s best teams.
Now, the international break has thrown a wrench (or spanner) into the blueprint for David Moyes’ recent success. Three players, mainly, are asking questions regarding the starting XI, two pushing for starts and the other casting doubt on his resumption of a starting role.
Fabian Balbuena is the one player who represented his country that could be headed for the drop. Paraguay’s back-to-back draws have set them up for a push for World Cup football, however late matches over the break and extensive travel leave the centre-back a doubt.
Here is the predicted team to battle at Bramall Lane:
Coufal – Diop – Ogbonna – Cresswell – Masuaku
Rice – Soucek
Bowen – Haller – Fornal
Bench: Randolph, Dawson, Fredericks, Noble, Benrahma, Lanzini, Antonio
Sebastien Haller’s first international duty for the Ivory Coast saw him score for his country, and get a needed mental break from London and West Ham. On the back of his success, he keeps his place and allows Michail Antonio to stay on the bench to further rest his hamstring injury.
Said Benrahma is the other player pushing for a start, but his solid outings for Algeria weren’t enough to unseat Pablo Fornals in the left-wing position. Still, much like how he was used against Fulham, expect Benrahma to come on for a short-leashed Fornals to spark the attack.
This team is strong and can boast Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku as healthy fixtures in the squad as they both skipped international duty to focus on their health. With a solid backline, elite midfield pivot, and strong attacking line this match is West Ham’s to lose.