Following an opening day defeat to Newcastle United, West Ham boss David Moyes switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 for their next match.
Playing Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, the Hammers were much improved and were unfortunate to lose 2-1, despite generating 1.9 expected goals to the Gunners’ 1.4 (via FBRef).
Since then, Moyes has stuck with the 3-4-3 formation and the results have been very positive. The Hammers now sit 12th in the table and have lost just once in the league since facing Arsenal, having already played Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
However, with Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen, Andriy Yarmolenko and Said Benrahma in the squad, the temptation to fit more creative players into the side must be growing.
Against Fulham, the Hammers left Benrahma, Lanzini and Yarmolenko on the bench and they struggled to create. Playing a Fulham side with one win this season, they generated just 1.3 expected goals to Fulham’s 1.6 and waited until the 90th minute to score the winner (via FBRef).
In future meetings with struggling sides like Fulham, Moyes will need to think about adding a little more creativity at the expense of defensive solidity.
A simple solution could be to switch back to the 4-2-3-1, taking Arthur Masuaku out of the side, shifting Aaron Creswell to left-back and adding a number 10 behind either Sebastien Haller or Michail Antonio up front.
While Haller has not been on great form, a switch in system would even allow Moyes to play him and Antonio in the same team, with Antonio able to move wide.
Regardless of the exact configuration, West Ham have a lot of attacking talent in their squad and they will all want to start. The question that has now been posed to Moyes is about how he can get the most out of them, without compromising the progress he has made.
In other West Ham news, why Moyes needs to rethink the Hammers’ attacking set up