Lucas Paqueta gets new role, Gianluca Scamacca and Michail Antonio to start - Predicted West Ham United XI v Arsenal
David Moyes has some big decisions to make for West Ham United’s return to Premier League action when they face Arsenal on Boxing Day.
The Hammers return to Premier League action against the league leaders having lost nine of their first 15 games so far this season and sitting just one point above the relegation zone.
But now the boss is hoping to have players back after injuries in the first half of the season, and he has some big calls to make after his players had fairly successful World Cup campaigns.
Lukasz Fabianski is expected to continue as the number one goalkeeper at the club despite Alphonse Areola adding a World Cup runners-up medal to his trophy cabinet.
In defence Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd are expected to miss out through injury, meaning Craig Dawson and Angelo Ogbonna should get the nod in the heart of a four-man defence for the Hammers.
German international Thilo Kehrer could also play there, but it’s more likely that he will play in his preferred right-back role, with the experienced Aaron Cresswell featuring on the left.
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After Lucas Paqueta’s brilliant exploits at the World Cup in a deeper role for Brazil, we could see Moyes switch his formation slightly and go with a 4-3-3 system rather than his usual 4-2-3-1 that we have seen this season.
Declan Rice is at his best in a box-to-box role, but he’s also by far the best defensive midfielder at the club and it could be a necessary evil to have him sitting in a lone role cleaning up and building attacks from deep.
That would allow both Tomas Soucek and Paqueta to sit ahead of him and arrive in the box where they’re at their strongest, while also providing good defensive cover when out of possession too.
In attack Jarrod Bowen has got the right wing position locked up as his own and he will be looking to put the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup with England behind him, starting with goals and assists in the Premier League.
Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals are both options on the left wing too, but West Ham have struggled for goals this season and Moyes could be tempted to put Michail Antonio out wide to add a goal threat.
That would allow him to field Italy international Gianluca Scamacca in his number nine role with adequate support around him too, and give Arsenal plenty to think about defensively.
Predicted West Ham XI v Arsenal: Fabianski; Kehrer, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek, Paqueta; Bowen, Antonio, Scamacca.