Said Benrahma and Nayef Aguerd to start - West Ham United predicted XI v Leicester City
David Moyes is likely to make five changes to his West Ham United starting lineup for their final-day Premier League clash against Leicester City on Sunday (28 May).
The Hammers kicked off their Europa Conference League final preparations with an impressive Premier League penultimate weekend 3-1 victory against Leeds United at the London Stadium [21 May].
West Ham go up against another relegation-threatened side this weekend in Leicester City at the King Power with the Foxes in serious danger of relegation to the Championship next season.
However, Moyes won’t be worrying about his opponents with one keen eye on the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina on 7 June in Prague, and the former Everton boss will be seeking some continuity and match rhythm in his selection.
Alphonse Areola, Nayef Aguerd, Aaron Cresswell, Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio could make their returns to the starting XI on Sunday [28 May].
Areola has been the starting goalkeeper in Europe this season and it remains to be seen who Moyes will choose to start the European final, but given the Frenchman’s reliability between the sticks and Moyes looking for some match-rhythm ahead of the tie, the former Real Madrid should start in place of Lukasz Fabianski.
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At the back, Vladimir Coufal returned from a hamstring injury against Leeds United and should continue at right back for West Ham United.
At the centre of defence, Zouma should keep his place but Moyes is likely to bring back Aguerd in place of Angelo Ogbonna who impressed against Leeds.
The Moroccan should recover from a knock to feature alongside Zouma, while Moyes is also likely to bring in veteran full-back Cresswell to replace Emerson at left-back.
In midfield, Declan Rice featured in what possibly should be his final London Stadium appearance and will be expected to perform till his last Hammers breath in these last two games of his East London career.
Once again, Moyes will look to partner him with Tomas Soucek in midfield to continue their tried and trusted partnership with the ever-impressive Lucas Paqueta leading from the front in the no.10 position he performed so expertly in against Leeds United.
It will be so easy for Moyes to go with a whole different setup against Leicester to avoid injuries, but it is equally important for his players to get some match rhythm in their legs seeing as the final is over a week away, with no fixtures in between.
For that reason, the former Manchester United boss could be tempted to bring back Benrahma into his starting line-up after he sat out the Leeds United match, and should replace Pablo Fornals. Bowen should continue on the right flank after his goalscoring performance against the Whites.
Moyes will be hoping and praying his star wide player continues in such vein of form heading into these last two games.
At number nine, given Antonio’s worrying injury record for West Ham United, Moyes could be tempted to wrap up the Jamaican international in cotton wool, but again he’s a player who needs to be player to reach maximum levels and Antonio should return to the fold after Danny Ings started at the London Stadium last weekend.
With nothing to play for in Premier League terms and the plight of their opponents on Sunday, the Hammers may be forgiven for going easy on Leicester City but Moyes simply won’t allow that with arguably the biggest game of the club’s recent history approaching around the corner.