After 13 days off, Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United return to Premier League action this Friday night with a home clash against Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham. A game that could see them complete their first double of the season.
Numerous players are very close to a return from injury for the Hammers, with some in contention for the London derby, but with this in mind, how will Pellegrini’s West Ham line up for the visit of Fulham to Stratford? Find out today as we predict the Irons starting Xl in our analysis.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
All being well, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski will continue his record of being the only man to start every league game this campaign for the club, tomorrow evening in east London. He did have an injury worry at the end of last month, however, has started the two matches since and put in fine performances.
RB: Ryan Fredericks
One man with a point to prove when he makes his third starting Xl in succession after edging ahead of Pablo Zabaleta in the pecking order against the Cottagers will be right-back Ryan Fredericks. The 25-year-old is facing his former club, one that he left last summer to join the Hammers, and will be out to haunt them.
RCB: Issa Diop
Starting what is likely to be his last game on the right side of the central defensive duo will undoubtedly be France under-21 international Issa Diop. The youngster has been shifted over to an unnatural position on the right since having to partner Angelo Ogbonna and has struggled. His regular partner Fabian Balbuena has a strong chance of fully returning from injury in West Ham’s next match after Fulham, away at league leaders Manchester City next Wednesday.
LCB: Angelo Ogbonna
If Balbuena is to be fit for the Etihad Stadium, there’s only one player who can stop him returning to the starting side and that’s his replacement in every PL match since his injury, ex-Italy defender Angelo Ogbonna. A strong showing and clean sheet is likely what he will need in the clash with the West Londoners to keep his place. Up until now, the veteran has been a somewhat unconvincing understudy.
LB: Aaron Cresswell
Just like on the opposite side of the back-four Pellegrini will field for only his team’s second home match since 12 January, there’s been another changing of the guard this year at left-back, with Aaron Cresswell preferred to Arthur Masuaku. Don’t expect that to change on Friday, either, as it very much appears to be a permanent change.
RCDM: Mark Noble (C)
Hoping to help his boyhood club climb above Everton and into ninth with three points against the league’s 19th-placed team will be club captain Mark Noble in right-central-defensive midfield. The skipper will have been buoyed by his first goal of 2018/2019 in the draw at Crystal Palace and wouldn’t mind another in the East Londoners’ second all-London clash in a row.
LCDM: Declan Rice
Acting as his captain’s partner in a pair protecting the defence, 20-year-old Declan Rice is set to start his 23rd consecutive Premier League game. The Englishman will be free of one off-field distraction having declared for England over the Republic of Ireland during the two-week break and it will now be about playing himself into Gareth Southgate’s squad before the March internationals.
RAM: Michail Antonio
One of the most in-form players in our predicted starting Xl is Michail Antonio, coming off scoring in the draw with Liverpool and then winning the penalty at Selhurst Park for Noble’s strike. Despite this, he still only has four for the term in all competitions and wants to build on that tally so desperately in the final few months of ‘18/19.
CAM: Javier Hernandez
We’re predicting striker Javier Hernandez to keep his spot in the starting team from the 1-1 at Palace. But in a slightly unusual number-ten role within the trio of attacking midfielders Pellegrini has tried to line up with at every opportunity in his first season at London Stadium. It’s a position he has played before, however, and will be confident in.
LAM: Felipe Anderson
Like Rice, Felipe Anderson is someone who will perhaps have his eye on international selection for next month, having not been selected since 2015 by Brazil. The club-record signing is one of the first names on the teamsheet at present and will be out to secure Hammer of the Year in his first season by finishing the season in form.
ST: Marko Arnautovic
In the only change we’re expecting from the last match the other side of the players’ warm-weather training camp in Marbella, Marko Arnautovic will come back in for the unfortunate Robert Snodgrass. The Austrian has just one goal in what has been an injury-and-rumour-affected 2019 thus far and needs to win back the love of the supporters before a likely departure in the summer.
We’ve predicted Pellegrini to return to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation because he now has the personnel to do so, with Arnautovic fit again and able to return to the lone-striker role with Hernandez playing off him in a three. The rest of the team stays the same, formation-wise. It will be intriguing to see how this system fares against expected 3-4-3 of Ranieri and Fulham.
So, now that you’ve seen our predicted West Ham starting Xl to host the Cottagers at London Stadium in the Premier League on Friday evening. All that is left to do is see if our prediction comes to fruition and whether the Hammers, the overwhelming favourites, can get their second league victory of the year.
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