David Moyes has resuscitated an otherwise dismal looking West Ham team. The Londoners are slowly but steadily making progress in the league after looking relegation candidates in the majority of the first half of the season.
Moyes has worked hard with the team and has brought back the work ethic, which was lacking in the team earlier. They delivered some gritty performances against the top guns in the last couple of weeks and would definitely fancy their chances against a disappointing Stoke team.
The Potters have won just one of their last seven games as their attack has constantly faltered this season. Let us see how the Hammers could line up in the game against Stoke:
Winston Reid is suspended for the match against Stoke and hence would have to watch the proceedings from the stands. Jose Fonte will be missed during the busy Christmas period and West Ham will have to tighten up their men at the heart of the defence due to the absence of their key central defenders. Cheikhou Kouyate will be eyeing for a return from injury too.
Adrian has done enough to convince Moyes to prefer the Spaniard to the more experienced Joe Hart. The Hammers have kept clean sheets in their last two matches against the fearsome attacks of Chelsea and Arsenal and hence Adrian deserves to start more games from now onwards.
James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, and Aaron Cresswell will form the three-man centre defence partnership. West Ham kept a compact and narrow defensive shape against the Gunners and will be looking to replicate that again.
Collins has played in just three Premier League games this season and it would be interesting to see how he copes with the rough and hard style of Stoke’s play after such a long haul. Cresswell will want to make inroads to the midfield and thus thereby opening up chances for the Hammers on the attack.
Pablo Zabaleta will start on the right flank for West Ham in the match. The Argentine has been consistent for West Ham as his experience and contributions in the attack have helped them massively. Arthur Masuaku will bring in a sniff of creativity from the left wing. His strong physique and tendency to attack give West Ham an advantage over the others.
Mark Noble has played the role of the anchor in the midfield. He was very influential in the game against Arsenal as he broke down attacks and then made some really good passes to the final third. Pedro Obiang will be doing more of the defensive work in this formation. He will be expected to hold on to his position, drop back to absorb attacks and to make regular defensive contributions for the team.
Manuel Lanzini is probably the most creative midfielder in this West Ham squad. Lanzini’s passing range and vision in the final third will be greatly complemented by Marko Arnautovic’s strength and direct style. Arnautovic has improved immensely under Moyes and has brought in a lot more assurance and belief in his role. He has finally begun to score and assist goals, something that would bring a sigh of relief to the Hammers fans.
Michail Antonio has been surprisingly touted to play as the striker in West Ham’s position. Antonio’s work ethic and willingness to drop deep and support the defence enables the team to maintain a better defensive balance.