Thin West Ham Pose Problem with Predicted XI vs. Blades

West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal. (Photo by GARETH COPLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal. (Photo by GARETH COPLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

A thin West Ham squad sees difficult decisions needed up top and across the backline as the Hammers must topple Sheffield at the London Stadium. Will David Moyes pick THIS team to face off with the Blades?

Late fitness tests have been reported for West Ham to the tune of one forward and two centre-backs. ExWHUemployee has confirmed that Michail Antonio, Fabian Balbuena, and Issa Diop are all headed for pre-game fitness tests, leaving much up in the air when picking the team.

It seems that three of the potential back four, or four of the potential back five will be set in stone with Craig Dawson, Vladimir Coufal, and Aaron Cresswell all fit, alongside wingbacks Ben Johnson and Ryan Fredericks. Who pairs with Dawson is the main question, with Issa Diop the favourite dispute his fitness test.

The midfield and attacking unit are predictable. West Ham’s Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek have been superb all season and will remain in the team, but could the striker issue force Soucek up top and bring Mark Noble into the team?

Here is the predicted West Ham team to clash with Sheffield United:

Coufal – Dawson – Diop – Cresswell – Johnson
Rice – Soucek
Bowen – Lingard – Benrahma

Bench: Trott, Alves, Balbuena, Fredericks, Noble, Lanzini, Fornals, Holland, Odubeko

This team, while defensive in set up, has proved under David Moyes a solid unit when it comes to counterattacking football. Yes, West Ham shouldn’t be setting up with five defenders at home to Sheffield, but Coufal and Johnson can get forward very easily and Cresswell will also be a very important playmaker in the Sheffield half.

Jesse Lingard at striker is the big question mark in the game. No Michail Antonio, who likely will be held back from even a bench position to preserve his tender hamstrings, means Moyes has to go outside of the box with his attacking unit, hence the midfielder at striker.

Some pluses to this are that Lingard can shoot from range with great accuracy. As well, his fluidity in movement will incorporate Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma into more central positions, especially with the extra width the wingbacks bring.

Should he need to go for it, Moyes will put Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, and Mipo Odubeko out at will to try and change up the way the attack is looking. Fredericks, too, has seen minutes in the attack as his pace and crossing brings a different element to the team.

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It is a complete crapshoot to determine this team with so many questionable players leading up to the match. I do think Benrahma, Bowen, and Lingard have a point to prove to many West Ham supporters, though, as all of them need to show up to bury Sheffield United ahead of a much tougher run of fixtures.