We are reaching a crucial time of the season as West Ham battle in the Premier League to finish in a European spot and the dream of Europa League glory is still on as a semi-final versus Eintracht Frankfurt awaits.
The team has performed brilliantly this season but there is now an injury crisis at the heart of defence with Kurt Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop all out injured.
Craig Dawson is the only fit centre-back so how could the Hammers line-up and get past this problem?
West Ham are suffering from an injury crisis at centre-back at a vital part of the season. What are the solutions to this selection issue?
There is no obvious choice but what could David Moyes choose to do?
Option 1 – Change Formation
West Ham could switch to a back five, a formation they play occasionally. Dawson can be the central of the three of centre-backs with Aaron Cresswell on the left with Ben Johnson on the right. The 22-year-old full-back is known for his versatility and his intelligence defensively could see him thrive as a wide centre-back. The weakness in Johnson’s game is his attacking so the different position may suit him.
However, there are big disadvantages to this. With just one recognised centre-back in the team the Hammers could suffer aerially with both Johnson and Cresswell under 5ft 10in. Also, left-wing back becomes a problem. Arthur Masuaku isn’t good enough and Pablo Fornals can do a job there but his creativity and smart pressing from the front will be missed in a deeper position. Opponents could also expose his lack of natural defensive nous.
The West Ham team and Moyes’ preferred system is a back four so ripping up what has served them so well may not be answer and perhaps the whole shape shouldn’t be affected. Interestingly, Chelsea and Frankfurt both play a five man defence. Moyes often copies the oppositions system when they use that formation so perhaps this alternative will be used in those big games.