Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United will welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur to London Stadium for the second time in 11 days this evening, in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
With the Chilean gaffer’s injury and suspension lost growing by the week and a vital run of fixtures ahead in the Premier League to consider, it’s hard to predict what kind of team he will put out in a bid for revenge for the defeat to Spurs earlier this month. But, today, we are going to have a go anyway, just hours before the Halloween night fixture.
GK: Adrian San-Miguel
Despite the imperious form of summer signing Lukasz Fabianski, who has replaced him in the league, cup goalkeeper Adrian San-Miguel will undoubtedly start between the sticks for the Hammers. The Spaniard has played every minute of cup football for Pellegrini this season and that is unlikely to change unless the Irons go far in this competition.
RB: Ryan Fredericks
Another fringe player for the East Londoners in the league this term is Ryan Fredericks, but as veteran Pablo Zabaleta enjoys a well-earned rest, he is set to be the man to fill in having started in the victories over AFC Wimbledon and Macclesfield Town, scoring in the latter, that got West Ham to Round Four.
RCB: Fabian Balbuena
One area where things won’t be as simple for Pellegrini when choosing his starting Xl will be the centre of defence, with a decision to make over starting his usual pairing or bringing in the experienced Angelo Ogbonna to give one of them a rest. While it is important to give players a break, especially in a three-game week, we think that he will stick with his tried and tested partnership, starting with Fabian Balbuena on the right.
LCB: Issa Diop
Alongside the Paraguayan International will be fellow summer arrival Issa Diop, the pair have conceded just nine times in eight games together this term, but are yet to feature as a pair in the Carabao Cup. Even if Pellegrini does decide to go with Ogbonna, one would feel that the Frenchman will be the one starting alongside him.
LB: Aaron Cresswell
Having lost his place in the regular starting Xl for Saturday’s draw with Leicester City after edging in front of Arthur Masuaku, for the second time this season, we are predicting squad rotation will allow Aaron Cresswell back in for this London derby. He will have a point to prove, once again.
RCDM: Pedro Obiang
Having missed the original Tottenham encounter of 11 days ago and the trip to the King Power Stadium, Pedro Obiang seems to have returned from injury at the perfect time for the Irons, given the suspension of his captain Mark Noble. If he isn’t risked on the right of a midfield three for this match, we could see one of youngsters Joe Powell or Conor Coventry make their full first-team debut.
CDM: Declan Rice
One more Academy of Football product, but one that will be one of the first names on the teamsheet in East London tonight is Declan Rice, who has started every league game since the September International break. Once more, he will act as the glue holding the midfielder together in CDM.
LCDM: Robert Snodgrass
Rounding off the trio of defensive midfielders will be Robert Snodgrass, injuries and suspensions have paved the way for him to gain a regular spot in the starting side, one that he’s worked extremely hard for. He remains the only player to have featured for the club in all 12 matches in 2018/2019 so far.
RF: Grady Diangana
This time two weeks ago, prior to the near-season-ending injury suffered by Andriy Yarmolenko against Pochettino’s men, the thought of Grady Diangana now getting ready for his second senior start in succession would have been unfathomable. However, after an impressive full PL debut four days ago, it would be a huge surprise to see him lose his place at right forward, within a front three.
ST: Marko Arnautovic (C)
He may have missed the weekend due to being under the weather, but we are tipping top goalscorer and vice-captain Marko Arnautovic to come straight back in for this huge cup night under the lights. With his lurking knee injury, some may argue he won’t be risked, but Pellegrini is taking this cup seriously and against a weakened Spurs team, his inclusion could be the difference between winning and losing.
LF: Felipe Anderson
Despite three sub-par performances in three winless games in the month of October for West Ham, expect club-record signing Felipe Anderson to remain in the left forward role. This is an opportunity to rebuild his confidence and it would be wise for Pellegrini to allow him to do it, if not, the likes of Javier Hernandez and Michail Antonio will be waiting in the wings.
The formation that we have predicted Pellegrini to arrange these 11 players in is his preferred 4-3-3 system, the one that he has been using at London Stadium for almost four months now. Some are predicting him to switch things up for this cup clash, but as a two-time-League-Cup-winning manager, we think he will approach it like he would a crucial league game.
So, now that you’ve heard our predicted West Ham starting Xl for what promises to be a spooky Halloween night for one side and one to remember for the other, do you agree with our team? Want to send in your predicted Xl and have your say on the matter of selection? Or anything else Hammers-related? Head over to our Twitter page @WestHamMatters_, to do so.
And don’t forget, tonight’s Carabao Cup Round Four clash between the Hammers and the Spurs at London Stadium is not televised in the United Kingdom. You can follow along with the action live here on West Ham Matters, however, as we bring you a Live Blog, containing live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction from London Stadium. Don’t miss it!