Manuel Pellegrini may have only been in the West Ham United job for a few weeks, but he is already moulding his starting Xl for next season, making three signings thus far in the summer transfer window, today, we take a look at how the Hammers could line-up for August’s first Premier League test of the new season, against Liverpool at Anfield.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
The Polish goalkeeper was captured on an undisclosed fee from relegated Swansea City last week, one has to feel that the new gaffer is not a fan of current number one Adrian San-Miguel and will not look to capture Joe Hart on a permanent deal, the 33-year-old has clear been purchased for a reason and you can fully expect him to make the first competitive Xl.
RB: Ryan Fredericks
Pellegrini, the Chilean, will have a decision to make in this department, stick with his old friend the veteran Pablo Zabaleta or bring in fresh blood in the form of Sam Byram or new signing and the star that was voted the best left-back in the Sky Bet Championship last season Fredericks, once again, the new name is likely to prevail to start in the North West.
CB: Issa Diop
A theme is delivering here as we reel off our third new signing, highly-rated France U21 International Diop, captured by the club on a record fee a day before Fabianski, with uncertainty at whether Winston Reid will be fit in time for this fixture, the 21-year-old is fully expected to be given a first chance to impress on the big stage.
CB: Angelo Ogbonna
Given the Premier League inexperience of the other centre-half, one would feel that Pellegrini will insert someone with plenty of experience alongside him and given the way he played last season in arguably his best campaign in Claret & Blue to date, this has to be Ogbonna the Italian International.
LB: Aaron Cresswell
The back four is being tipped to be rounded off by the ex-England International Cresswell, being shifted back to left-back, having been deployed as a left-sided central defender by David Moyes for the second half of the last campaign, that is, of course, if the gaffer decides not to invest in this area in the next month-and-a-half.
CDM: Mark Noble (C)
A change of skipper under the new manager doesn’t seem to be on the cards and should he be fit, the man that lives and breathes West Ham will start in central midfield, Pellegrini will hope to get the best out of him, much like Moyes achieved with the veteran and he has scored at Anfield before, in a historic 2015/2016 triumph.
CDM: Declan Rice
Now, this is the interesting one, the starlet who set East London alight in his remarkable 31 appearances last term, has been viewed as a defender by his two first-team bosses so far, but the waves coming out of East London very much suggest he is being seen differently now, as a defensive midfield option, an out-of-form Cheikhou Kouyate is unlikely to be preferred.
RAM: Felipe Anderson
Anyone that has closely tracked the movements of the East Londoners in the last couple of weeks will be familiar with this player’s name, he is set to become the new club-record signing as negotiations are ongoing, should he sign from Lazio in the coming weeks, he could well be deployed in the right attacking midfield role, one he is more than accustomed to.
CAM: Jack Wilshere
In the days after announcing that he will be departing from Arsenal in the wake of a spell that has lasted over ten years, with Unai Emery’s arrival, the Englishman is being heavily linked with a move to his boyhood club, Pellegrini will need to bolster this area with Manuel Lanzini out on the long term, don’t be surprised if Wilshere is walking out at Anfield on 11 August.
LAM: Arthur Masuaku
Our starting Xl concludes with two existing members of the Irons squad, the first one being Democratic Republic of Congo International Masuaku, he has played a number of positions in a West Ham shirt, however, one would think that Pellegrini will see his best place as having no defensive responsibility, this is just about the most attacking position that he can be played.
ST: Marko Arnautovic
While there could be some new competition for this place to add to the existing competition, the likes of Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll, depending on whether the attacking armoury will be reinforced, this man simply can’t be left out and won’t be, next season is a fantastic opportunity for him to build on his total of 11 Hammers strikes, starting in Liverpool.
You may be wondering why this side has been arranged into a rather unfamiliar, to members of the Claret & Blue Army, 4-2-3-1 formation, but this has been the choice formation for Pellegrini throughout his managerial career and there is nothing to suggest that things will be any different, this time.
So, now that you’ve been given the full lowdown on the early predicted West Ham United starting Xl to take on Liverpool at Anfield on the opening day of the 2018/2019 Premier League season, all that is left to do is wait to see if this comes to fruition, only 51 more sleeps to go.