West Ham will travel to Birmingham to take on Aston Villa in a difficult and important match, but who makes the starting XI and bench for the Hammers?
The greatest question to answer regarding West Ham and their trip to Villa Park is how adventurous does David Moyes want to be? His starting XI’s have largely been the same since the start of the new year, but does a loss to Liverpool change his mind on who starts?
This, then, leads to the next biggest question – will Jesse Lingard start or get any minutes in this game? No, and yes. Lingard is not expected to start based on limited time with the club and if we look at Moyes’ wading in of new players, we could only get a limited cameo for the newest Hammer if we see him at all.
With a probably predictable starting XI, the bigger and more interesting questions come when thinking about substitutions. Will we see Lingard? Will Mipo Odubeko make the bench and get minutes? Is Andriy Yarmolenko going to be used as a striker?
Here is the predicted starting XI and bench for West Ham’s trip to Villa Park:
Coufal – Dawson – Ogbonna – Cresswell
Rice – Soucek
Bowen – Benrahma – Fornals
Bench: Martin, Diop, Balbuena, Johnson, Noble, Lanzini, Lingard, Yarmolenko, Odubeko
The notable names dropped from the bench are Ryan Fredericks, a right-wing/midfield substitute in recent weeks, and Frederik Alves, who has seen some action from the sidelines but will factor in more in the U23s moving forward.
This bench, with the subtraction of one defender for Lingard, is much more attacking with two attacking midfielders, one winger, and one striker all ready for minutes.
Predicting the game is difficult, though, as Aston Villa have the skill to dominate or switch off completely with a disappointing performance. If the Hammers are in control, look for both Lingard and Odubeko, two former Manchester United players, to get their debuts for West Ham.
This starting XI is much easier to predict than the match itself. This starting XI with the right game plan can beat any competition in the Premier League, and Aston Villa shouldn’t scare them. The defensive strength that lies in this unchanged backline needs to be strong and shut down Watkins and Grealish at every chance.