Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United side haven’t been in the best of form since the start of October, but still sit a point above Tottenham Hotspur, in 10th place. They have picked up some vital results along the way as the Hammers attempt to achieve their long-term ambition of playing in Europe. Although the season started on the right note for the Hammers, things have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. They will be looking to put things right once again as they welcome Newcastle United to the London Stadium.
They drew their last game against Sheffield United, despite being in control of possession, and proceedings in general, for most of the night. Lys Mousset’s second-half goal proved to be too much for the Hammers to come back from last weekend. Their last league win came against Manchester United in September, with no victories in the entire month of October to show for their efforts.
Manuel Pellegrini had lost two players to serious injuries even before the league had completed ten weeks. Although both Michael Antonio and Lukasz Fabianski are now done with their surgeries, their return to first team football is probably still a few weeks, if not months, away. The winger got a procedure done on his thigh and could return later this year, while the goalkeeper has been ruled out until the end of the year at least.
Ryan Fredricks is one of the players who has recently returned from an injury and could play a part in Pellegrini’s setup against Newcastle United. Winston Reid is also close to a return, but the manager has said that he will spend a week with the U-23s, before moving into the first-team setup again. Another miss for this game is former Arsenal man Jack Wilshere, who is still nursing a pelvic problem.
With Lukasz Fabianski out injured, expect Roberto to keep his place in between the sticks for the Hammers. Manuel Pellegrini isn’t the kind of manager who makes changes hastily, meaning that the likelihood of the duo of Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena continuing in the heart of the West Ham defence is quite high. Ryan Fredricks’ return to fitness could see him slot back into the starting lineup in place of the veteran Argentine Pablo Zabaleta. Aaron Cresswell should retain his place on the left flank for the Hammers as well.
The usual suspects in Mark Noble and Declan Rice will act as Pellegrini’s double pivot against Newcastle United. The Magpies are coming into this tie on the back of a shocking red card to Sean Longstaff – their most dynamic midfield player. By using Noble and Rice effectively, the Hammers could take control of the game right from the opening minutes.
In front of this rather classic-looking midfield pairing, expect to see star man Manuel Lanzini return to the lineup in place of Felipe Anderson, who could drop to the bench. Lanzini would slot into the number ten role, in front of the midfielders and just in behind the main striker. On either side of him, expect to see Andriy Yarmolenko and Robert Snodgrass, who both didn’t put a foot wrong in their last league outing.
Sebastian Haller has all the attributes to be a massive Premier League success in the long run, especially considering that within his first ten weeks in England, he’s already scored four goals. The striker’s place in the side is yet to come under scrutiny, thanks to some inspiring and hard-working displays by the Frenchman. His finishing has been exquisite too, making him the perfect striker for Manuel Pellegrini’s offensive setup.
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