West Ham To Stay The Course; Predicted XI vs. Aston Villa

David Moyes, West Ham. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
David Moyes, West Ham. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Common knowledge and football lore suggest David Moyes will pick the same team to face Aston Villa, but the bench could change for the Hammers.

Call it stubbornness, call it loyalty, or call it genius, West Ham manager has been married to his starting XI in recent weeks and for good reason. Regardless of instant or delayed impact this Hammers squad has stared adversity in the face and laughed with a surprising run of form.

Rewarding the manager and the team, in general, will hopefully be the return to the bench for Michail Antonio. Sebastien Haller is still expected to start and get the lion’s share of striker minutes against Aston Villa, but having a plan B in Antonio back in contention will be a huge boost to the attack.

Here is the awfully predictable predicted XI to face off against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa:

Coufal – Balbuena – Ogbonna – Cresswell – Masuaku
Rice – Soucek
Bowen – Haller – Fornals

Bench: Randolph, Diop, Fredericks, Noble, Lanzini, Benrahma, Antonio

Besides Antonio, Mark Noble is marked for a return to the bench after a lingering injury has sidelined him for more than a month. This comes at the sacrifice of Robert Snodgrass who has been picked for the bench in recent weeks. It is also important to note that Andriy Yarmolenko still misses out with his positive COVID-19 test result.

Other than that, this familiar team will be run out yet again in Premier League action. Pablo Fornals is coming off of (arguably) his worst match of the season, begging the question of when Said Benrahma will get his first start in the Prem.

Until the points dry up, don’t expect Moyes to abandon his attacking-midfielder turned winger just yet. Fornals’ is less effective in wide positions, but extra support from Arthur Masuaku at left-wingback does give him the freedom to rotate centrally and support Haller at striker with more regularity.

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Nothing brash nor bold, but Moyes has every right to reward his starting XI with more minutes after yet another important win in the hunt for consistency, strong play, and now European football. Aston Villa will need their A-game to knock the Hammers off their perch.