Since the arrival of Mohammed Kudus in the summer, West Ham manager David Moyes has had a difficult time fitting all his best players into the starting lineup. Whether it be finding a place for the Ghanaian or the in-form Tomas Soucek, it has been a season full of selection headaches for the Scotsman.
However, after a 3-2 comeback victory over Nottingham Forest at the London Stadium this weekend, it appears Moyes has found his strongest unit.
What is West Ham’s best starting XI?
This part of the squad has been easy for Moyes. Alphonse Areola was given the starting job over long-time number-one Lukasz Fabianski, and he’s hardly disappointed. Areola won save of the month in the Premier League for October with his acrobatic effort against Aston Villa, and his overall shot-stopping seems to be an improvement on Fabianski.
Since his heroic performance in Prague in the Europa Conference League Final in June, Emerson has well and truly made the left back spot his own. His attacking endeavor and chemistry with Lucas Paqueta has seen the Italian international become one of West Ham’s most important players this season; the starting role is his.
At center back Kurt Zouma has done a fine job at replacing Declan Rice as captain and his performances as a defender have been stellar. In a Moyes system, Zouma thrives in the air and defending the 18-yard box. In the Frenchman’s third season, he is easily one of West Ham’s most important players.
Partnering Zouma going forward has to be Nayef Aguerd. With great recovery pace and elite ball distribution, Aguerd is a must for the starting XI going forward. While some have questioned the Moroccan’s defensive capability, his creativity from the back is a real asset. Without Aguerd’s accurate diagonal passes, much of West Ham’s build-up play stagnates.
Edson Alvarez was tasked with the impossible of replacing Declan Rice in defensive midfield for West Ham when he signed from Ajax this summer, but the Mexican international has been equal to the task. With a great engine combined with a fierce mentality, Alvarez does a solid job at protecting the back four and is a crucial piece in the puzzle for Moyes.
Tomas Soucek being back at his best has been a big reason why West Ham sit in the top half of the Premier League table and atop their Europa League group currently. The Czech international seems to have a newfound confidence after being rewarded with a new contract after a disappointing campaign last season. Soucek’s energy and presence going forward has led to his goal output rising and goals from midfield are crucial to success in the Premier League.
James Ward-Prowse has been a revelation since signing for West Ham this summer, with two goals and nine assists already, his offensive output simply can’t be overlooked. While Ward-Prowse isn’t suited to playing as a deep-lying midfielder, if Moyes deploys him ahead of Alvarez and Soucek, West Ham fans will see the best out of him beyond his brilliant set-pieces.
The attack has without question been the biggest question mark this season for Moyes. With the arrival of Kudus, who is West Ham’s best front three?
To start on the left, Lucas Paqueta has to be the main man. While he likes to drift in centrally for the majority of the game, Paqueta’s creative influence and work-rate make him undroppable. Further, his chemistry with Emerson on the left flank has led to a number of goals this year and has been a real focal point for the West Ham attack.
On the right, Mohammed Kudus has finally nailed down the starting role his quality warrants. With brilliant goals being scored seemingly every week, the direct play and pace of Kudus have been on display in full effect. Recent performances has made it impossible for Moyes to drop him, and West Ham fans are beginning to see why he was such a coup this summer.
Last but not least, the center forward. Moyes has made his mind up and it looks like Michail Antonio is the odd man out in the starting XI, as England international Jarrod Bowen looks as though he will be converted into a number nine and try to make the striker role his own. This move has been on the cards for a while now, as Moyes has openly spoken about how he believes Bowen can play there. With Anotnio’s dip in form, and Bowen’s brilliant start to the campaign, you can see why the Scotsman made the call he did.
So there you have it. After months of questioning how Moyes would fit the talent at West Ham into the starting XI, it appears the positional changes of Paqueta and Bowen have given him his answer, and for West Ham fans, it’s a very exciting one.