Tagged: West Ham
Monday, September 13th, 2021 at 6:43 pm #78134Iron ManKeymaster
Michail Antonio’s last-minute sending off against Southampton made no difference to the outcome at St Mary’s but puts David Moyes in an awkward position next weekend.
The newly capped Jamaican international had started the season in fine form but frustration got the better of him after being shackled all game by the Saints defence.
In Antonio’s previous three matches the striker had scored four, set up three and despite missing a penalty on the opening day of the season is still top of the scoring charts.
Antonio will sit out the match due to suspension and with no new striker arriving in the summer transfer window, Moyes must look for an alternative way to line up against his former team.
The most obvious solution is to remain in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with Jarrod Bowen stepping into Antonio’s role and new signing Nikola Vlasic coming into the starting XI.
Selecting Vlasic and moving Bowen upfront will require a slight rejig to the attack but nothing the players can’t cope with.
Alternatively, if Moyes wants to stick to players he knows well he could keep Vlasic on the bench and bring in Andriy Yarmolenko.
The Ukrainian captain has played through the middle for his country before and Moyes used him there a number of times in Antonio’s absence last season.
Yarmolenko’s selection would keep disruption to a settled team to a minimum with the Ukrainian capable of either starting as the striker or on the right with Bowen in the No.9 role.
Using Vlasic as a central striker is another option with the Croatian having played there before, however, Moyes has already hinted he sees Vlasic as an attacking midfielder, not a striker.
“We have seen Yarmolenko playing as a No.9, Jarrod Bowen can play as a No.9 so I feel as if I’ve got one or two other options which I can look to do,” Moyes said.
“I think, Nicola might be, I’m not sure as a No.9 but I don’t think there is a problem if I have to use him there as well. Possibly the other boys [Yarmolenko and Bowen] are ahead of him before he will play in that role.”
A further option would be to switch formations entirely and play with five at the back, something Moyes has done regularly against the ‘big’ teams.
This could see Kurt Zouma make his Premier League debut for the club with the likes of Ryan Fredericks also an option to play in wide midfield in a 5-4-1 to double up on Manchester United’s attacking threat.
Fredericks played a midfield role with aplomb against Aston Villa in January in an effort to double up with Vladimir Coufal on Jack Grealish.
Moyes may consider a similar ploy to counter Manchester United’s threat but with just Friday’s post-Europa League cool down session and Saturday’s training ahead of Sunday’s match any major changes to his team will be unlikely.
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There is no direct replacement for Antonio in the Hammers front line so the line-up on Sunday will require some creative thinking from Moyes.
The striker’s suspension is a frustrating one for West Ham and fatigue from the Europa League will be an added complication for the Scot who has won just three matches against his former team in 28 attempts.
Since departing Old Trafford Moyes in winless in six attempts against Manchester United. He has lost four and drawn two with Sunderland and West Ham, a record the Scot be determined to improve upon next weekend and in the Carabao Cup the following week.
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