Manuel Pellegrini and his West Ham United side will be hoping to climb to seventh in the Premier League table and make it three victories in succession in all competitions this weekend when they travel to face AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
But with players returning from injury and others being linked with moves away from east London in the middle of the January transfer window, how will the Hammers line up against Eddie Howe’s men at Bournemouth? Under 24 hours prior to the clash, we are going to predict in our analysis.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
One constant for the East Londoners in every match in the league this season has been the goalkeeper, in contrast to recent campaigns, and don’t expect that to change on the south coast tomorrow. “Signing of the summer” Lukasz Fabianski will be looking to make it five clean sheets in 2018/2019, after his fourth against former club Arsenal, last weekend.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta
He may now have reached the grand old age of 34 following his birthday in midweek, but despite the return of fellow right-back Ryan Fredericks to fitness and the squad, he is not expected to drop out for the Cherries. In 58 appearances in all competitions in Claret & Blue, Pablo Zabaleta is yet to score, will that change this weekend?
RCB: Issa Diop
Still missing his usual centre-back partner Fabian Balbuena to the injury that has kept him sidelined since before Christmas, France U21 star Issa Diop will undoubtedly line up on the right side of defence. He’s played in all six of the Irons’ clean sheets in all competitions this term, the only player do so, can he be a good omen once again at the back?
LCB: Angelo Ogbonna
To Diop’s left in the left-centre-back position will be former Italy man Angelo Ogbonna, who has held the place in the regular starting Xl since Balbuena’s injury in the defeat to Watford. The partnership of Diop and Ogbonna have featured in five matches since the Hornets encounter, conceding just five goals and keeping two clean sheets.
LB: Aaron Cresswell
Having reclaimed the left-back spot from Arthur Masuaku around the turn of the year, it would be a huge surprise to see Aaron Cresswell not start in the first Hammers away game of 2019. The ex-England star will be desperate to help his team defeat the Cherries for the first time in two-and-a-half years.
RCDM: Mark Noble (C)
Moving into the midfield-two that will be protecting the back-four, we find club captain Mark Noble, still one of the first names on Pellegrini’s teamsheets at the age of 31. The skipper has been rejuvenated under the new manager, however, is yet to score in his reign and would love to change that tomorrow.
LCDM: Declan Rice
One man who has scored recently is the one that will be alongside Noble, playing his first game as a 20-year-old in left-central defensive midfield, Declan Rice. He found his first goal in 55 senior appearances, the winner against the Gunners, last Saturday. will his strikes be like London buses?
CAM: Samir Nasri
Someone few would have expected to be set to line up at Bournemouth in mid-January a month ago is new signing Samir Nasri. After serving an 18-month ban for a doping violation, he was expected to be rusty having signed as a free agent on December 31. Nasri has been far from it, starting and impressing in the last two games.
RF: Michail Antonio
We are expecting to see another front-three from Pellegrini in his second career trip to the Vitality, and on the right side of it will be an in-form Michail Antonio. The paceman has happy memories of the smallest ground in the Premier League, scoring there in April 2017 as West Ham narrowly lost out 3-2. Can he replicate the goal to claim his fourth of the season?
ST: Marko Arnautovic
It may surprise many to find out that Marko Arnautovic is still very much in line to start the Irons’ next match, having trained with the squad all week. While he looks set to move to the Chinese Super League sooner or later, unless something very dramatic happens, the striker will be on a quest for his eighth strike of the campaign on Saturday, which would see him catch teammate Felipe Anderson.
LF: Felipe Anderson
It is club-record signing Anderson who rounds off our predicted Xl, the Brazilian will start on the far left side of the front three. Despite going four matches without a goal, the number eight is still in form and was instrumental in a first home win over Arsenal since November 2006, six days ago.
It is thought that, as well as sticking with the same starting team if he can, Pellegrini will stick with the same formation that served his team so well at London Stadium. The 4-2-1-3 is an unusual one, seen for the first time in his tenure last weekend, but also one that suits the personnel available to him at present. It will be intriguing to see how this fares up against the preferred 4-4-2 of Howe and the Cherries.
So, now that you’ve heard our West Ham predicted starting Xl to clash with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in this analysis, we want to hear yours! Simply head over to @WestHamMatters_ to Tweet us your predicted team and have your say on anything else Hammers-related.
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