Often on the receiving end of bad injury news, West Ham have the tables turned and MUST take advantage of Leeds centre-back injury problems.
It is rare that West Ham get to press another team’s injury problems instead of the opposite being true, but in 2020 the Hammers have been afforded the chance twice now with first Liverpool and now Leeds having massive injury shake-ups in the centre-back core.
Of course, the Hammers couldn’t find a way through the Liverpool backline despite the injuries, but with even fewer reserves on hand, Leeds’ injury crisis at centre-half should be a motivating factor for the front three that David Moyes selects.
The problems are two-fold for Leeds. First up, German international Robin Koch will be out a few months after requiring surgery on his knee. The every-day starter was a strong signing by this aspiring Leeds team and his loss will be heavily felt.
To compound the issue, backup defender Diego Llorente is also now out for Friday’s match with a muscle injury sustained in Leeds’ loss to Chelsea. This was revealed in Marco Bielsa’s extremely early team naming where he outlined his starting XI :
"“Rodrigo Moreno is going to come in for Llorente and the 11 will be Meslier, Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Alioski, Phillips, Klich, Moreno, Raphinha, Harrison, Bamford.”"
David Moyes has to view this news as incredibly positive as the heavily attacking side that his team will be facing are relatively hollow on defence, especially with the adventurous nature of Leeds’ fullbacks often extending deep up the pitch. Moyes’ 5-2-3 formation should be able to neutralize this press and spring the counter at every opportunity.
Moyes should also be pushing his team to aerially attack Leeds backline with wide play being extremely important. Wing-backs will allow the Hammers to overload on either side, and Haller should be given every opportunity to run at the fill-in defenders to attack the ball and make space for his wingers and midfielders.
You never root for injuries but you can take advantage of a team’s misfortune by playing intensely for a full 90 minutes and pressing this opportunity in the hopes of a goal return. A team shouldn’t need another team to have injuries in order to beat them, of course, but Leeds would do the exact same to us given the option. Time to right the ship by taking our chances.