West Ham United will be missing winger Andriy Yarmolenko for this weekend’s Premier League trip to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium after the Ukraine International tore his Achilles in last Saturday’s defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, meaning he is likely to be out for the rest of the season.
With regular Pedro Obiang also on the sidelines for the vital clash with Claude Puel’s men, how will Manuel Pellegrini set out his Hammers team, which players will he choose and which formation? Join us today as we attempt to predict his starting Xl for Saturday evening.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
We start with a position that isn’t up for as much debate as some of the others as Polish International Lukasz Fabianski has stolen the show in terms of the Irons’ summer signings, producing the second most saves in the Premier League this season. He will just be hoping for a clean sheet between the sticks, having only registered the one so far.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta
Unlike the other full-back position on the opposite side of the defence, when fit, the same man has fulfilled the right-back role and he will do so once again with great professionalism in the Midlands, he is, of course, veteran Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentine has kept new man Ryan Fredericks out of the side with his performances this term, though he will be wanting to avoid a booking at the KP, as he edges closer to a suspension.
CB: Fabian Balbuena
Along with the aforementioned Fabianski, Paraguay International centre-back Fabian Balbuena is the only man to have played every minute in the league for the East Londoners in 2018/2019 and don’t expect that to change this weekend as he looks to continue his consistency.
CB: Issa Diop
Balbuena’s partner for seven of those nine matches has been fellow summer arrival Issa Diop and the pair looked to have formed the new long-term centre-half partnership of West Ham. Together, they have conceded just eight of the 14 goals to be leaked by Pellegrini’s men and look set to carry on their resolute form against Leicester.
LB: Aaron Cresswell
As we round off the defence, we reach our first area where the player in this position is not so sure of making the starting Xl, but we have gone for Aaron Cresswell over his primary competition in Arthur Masuaku. The ex-England star started ahead of him in the Spurs defeat and, in all likelihood, showed just enough to keep his spot with a competent 90-minute display.
RCDM: Mark Noble (C)
As the level of his showings have gone the same way as his age under Pellegrini, up, club captain Mark Noble has regained his status as one of the first names on the teamsheet. This undoubtedly won’t alter with so many injuries on midfield, leaving the boyhood Hammer with the chance to build on his Man of the Match display in this fixture last season.
CDM: Declan Rice
In the centre of midfield with Noble to his right and Robert Snodgrass to his left will be another Academy of Football graduate in Declan Rice. Since playing all of 45 minutes in August and early September, he has started every match this side of the International break of that month, he is the glue that will hold this midfield together at the tender age of 19.
LCDM: Robert Snodgrass
As we mentioned earlier, Obiang is set to miss another match with his calf injury and there is very little doubt that the man filling in for him on the left side of the midfield will once again be Snodgrass. Having drawn praise from his gaffer in the build-up to this encounter, he is the only star in Claret & Blue to have featured in every game in every competition under Pellegrini and his 100 per cent effort makes him a dangerous player.
RF: Grady Diangana
The last spot where there is a little doubt over the player who will fill it in this predicted Xl is the right forward role within the front three and we have gone for 20-year-old Grady Diangana to make his full top-flight debut. Following on from two goals in his first start in the Carabao Cup and two PL cameos, he arguably deserves to replace Yarmolenko over out-of-form Michail Antonio.
ST: Marko Arnautovic
The undisputed danger man for the visitors is this guy, talisman Marko Arnautovic leading the line in the central striker role all on his own and hungrier than ever following a pair of late misses in consecutive Hammers defeats. He has five goals for club and country this campaign, two more than his opposite number live on BT Sport, Jamie Vardy.
LF: Felipe Anderson
The final name in our predicted starting team and another all but guaranteed to start for the tenth league game in succession is that of club-record signing Felipe Anderson. Being unable to successfully complete half of his total actions in the most recent London derby loss led to him being hauled off on 59 minutes, he now has a point to prove from the left forward role.
The formation that we are tipping Pellegrini to stick with, as he has done since his first PL triumph as Irons manager over Everton back in September, is his modified 4-3-3. It will feature the back four, three holding midfielders and a fearsome front three, whoever takes the place of Yarmolenko. Expect this team and formation to start fast and then sit back and look to hit the Foxes on the counter-attack.
So, now that you’ve heard our predicted West Ham starting Xl for tomorrow’s televised crucial PL outing with Puel’s Leicester at the KP Stadium, do you agree with it? Want to give us yours? Or just to have your say on the matter of selection or anything else Hammers-related? Find us on Twitter @WestHamMatters_ to do so.