Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United will aim to go four matches unbeaten this Friday evening when they travel to the American Express Community Stadium to face off with Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League. Today, we attempt to predict the starting Xl that the Hammers will name to face Chris Hughton’s men.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
The man with the second-most saves in the top-flight this season, only behind Joe Hart by one, will undoubtedly line up between the sticks, barring some kind of sudden injury blow inside the next 24 hours, he will be keen to build on his one and only clean sheet this season, as it doesn’t reflect the quality of his performances.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta
Few would have expected before the start of the season that veteran Pablo Zabaleta would be keeping new signing Ryan Fredericks out of the side, but he is and strong performance after strong performance from the 34-year-old is meaning he may have to wait sometime for his first-team opportunity.
CB: Fabian Balbuena
For the first time in several years, it now looks like West Ham have found a new permanent partnership at centre-back, which includes Paraguayan Fabian Balbuena, who was also signed in the summer, it would take any of the players in our predicted Xl an injury to not start on Friday, and the defender is no different.
CB: Issa Diop
Alongside Balbuena will be his accomplice and fellow summer signing Issa Diop, after a tough start to life in English football, the Frenchman is really adapting to the challenge of playing at centre-half in the world’s toughest league. His performances of late have even drawn praise from opposing managers.
LB: Arthur Masuaku
Another surprise within what is increasingly being dubbed as Pellegrini’s best team, the one that he will stick with, going forward, is the fact that Arthur Masuaku is ahead of Aaron Cresswell, but this has come about due to an improvement in the French-born African’s all-round game, he is a real danger man.
RCDM: Mark Noble (C)
Like many of the players in the team that will start on the south coast, Mark Noble’s regular starting place was everything but secured at the start of the season, however, injuries and immense performances from the club captain have allowed him to get back into the team. In peak physical condition, he is rolling back the years.
CDM: Declan Rice
Whilst it may have been the significant injury suffered by Jack Wilshere that allowed Declan Rice to reclaim his spot in the starting Xl, the 19-year-old continues to turn heads throughout the footballing world with his mature showings, he is now one of the first names on the teamsheet, and will be tomorrow night.
LCDM: Pedro Obiang
Completing the midfield three in the 4-3-3 formation, on the left side, will be Pedro Obiang, a man who has quietly but effectively gone about his business since regaining his own starting berth at the beginning of September. Expect him to sweep up in the middle of the park, protecting Masuaku and providing Felipe Anderson with support.
RF: Andriy Yarmolenko
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this Hammers team for the opposition, in this case, the Seagulls, will be the front three and the man on the right of that is Ukrainian International Andriy Yarmolenko. He is a real handful and will be hungry to build on his first two goals in Claret & Blue, scored in mid-September.
ST: Marko Arnautovic
If there is a real star man of the Irons’ starting Xl, it is surely Marko Arnautovic and the odds of him scoring at the Amex are about as tight as Brighton’s defenders will be man-marking him. A confident Arnautovic is a very, very dangerous one and he will be in good spirits following a goal on his return from injury last Saturday, his fourth of the campaign.
LF: Felipe Anderson
The deadly front three and the whole team is rounded off by the club-record signing, Felipe Anderson, like many of his teammates, the start of the term was not kind to the Brazilian. But, he has come roaring back in recent weeks to show his true quality and why the Hammers spent so much on him, he also netted his first English goal in last weekend’s victory against Manchester United
Not only has Pellegrini found his strongest team, but he has also seems to have found the best formation in which to arrange his players, the 4-3-3, a flat back four, with three defensive midfielders, supporting the aforementioned three forwards. Using this system, the East Londoners will look to hit Albion on the counter-attack, where they have been so effective, in recent times.
So, now that we’ve told you how we think Pellegrini will set out his West Ham team for the trip to the Amex Stadium tomorrow night, what do you think? Agree with our prediction, don’t agree with our prediction? Let us know your views by visiting our Twitter page, @WestHamMatters_.