In just six days’ time, Manuel Pellegrini will lead his new-look West Ham United side into battle in the Premier League for the first time, travelling to face Liverpool at the famous Anfield in a 1:30 PM BST kick-off on Sunday.
Just a few weeks after the Chilean’s arrival at London Stadium, in June, we had a go at predicting what the Hammers’ starting Xl would look like on the day, check it out here.
But for quick reference, we went for new signing Lukasz Fabianski in goals, fellow new boy Ryan Fredericks on the right side of the defence, alongside the centre-back pairing of then-club-record capture Issa Diop and familiar face Angelo Ogbonna, with ex-England man Aaron Cresswell at left-back.
As the 4-2-3-1 formation got further forward, we went for skipper Mark Noble and youngster Declan Rice in defensive midfield, supporting a three of then-unsigned Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere, alongside Arthur Masuaku on the left, all sitting behind lone striker Marko Arnautovic. Although, with under a week to go, will there be much change when we predict the lineup today?
GK: Adrian San-Miguel
The first of four changes that we have made from our June predicted Xl comes between the sticks, the Spaniard Adrian has enjoyed a very strong pre-season having ended the last as No1 and seeing as Fabianski has only managed two appearances after the FIFA World Cup, it is looking like Adrian will get the nod.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta
Another consistent performer over the last month-and-a-bit has been the veteran Argentine fresh from his World Cup punditry stint, Ryan Fredericks hasn’t been quite as consistent, so it is believed that Pellegrini will go with the experience against such a high-quality opposition in Liverpool, the question is, can he deal with their pace?
CB: Fabian Balbuena
When the relatively-unknown centre-back was signed from Corinthians last month, few would have believed that he would be in contention to start in Liverpool on 12 August but the truth is, he probably will and he will have his outstanding pre-season displays to thank for edging in front of Diop in the pecking order.
CB: Angelo Ogbonna
The Italian international will be one of the first names on the teamsheet for his Chilean boss, having enjoyed arguably the season of his career in Claret & Blue last term, he keeps his position from June in our lineup and has been a stalwart at the back throughout trips to Europe and friendlies in England.
LB: Aaron Cresswell
One of the places that perhaps isn’t quite as locked down is Aaron Creswell’s on the left side of the back four, the Merseyside-born defender has missed large period of pre-season through injury, although he is now back to full fitness and is being tipped to just pip in-form Arthur Masuaku.
CDM: Mark Noble (C)
He may now be into his 30s, but pre-season has showed us that club captain Noble is as worthy of his place in the regular starting Xl as anyone else is and it would be a real shock to see anyone else with the armband in the North west, he may have to be a bit careful with his fitness this season, however.
CDM: Declan Rice
Having made over 30 first-team appearances last term, many of which came while he was still an 18-year-old, playing at centre-back, it is clear to see that Pellegrini fancies the republic of Ireland international as a central defensive midfielder, he has enjoyed more game time then Pedro Obiang in the last month and should start ahead of him.
RAM: Felipe Anderson
As we move into the four more attacking players who will line up in the blue and yellow of the new away kit, fairly little has changed from our June team, as predicted, this man soon signed for a club-record fee and has looked like a very hot prospect in the second half of pre-season, the home side will be feeling nervous about Anderson on the right wing.
CAM: Jack Wilshere
One more deal that wasn’t quite confirmed back in June was that of this man, boyhood Hammer and ex-Arsenal star Wilshere, part of the reason for him joining was to fulfill a more attacking role, he has barely been out of the starting side in pre-season and has always been deployed in the dangerous “CAM” position.
LAM: Andriy Yarmolenko
Of the 11 players in this team, the Ukrainian International is the only one with a fitness question mark hanging over his head off the back of his £17.5 million move from Borussia Dortmund, he has missed the latter part of pre-season, although according to the club’s medical staff, he will make it back in time to start if picked, as opposed to Arthur Masuku.
ST: Marko Arnautovic
We talked about first names on the teamsheet, however, this Austria star will be at the very top, last season’s Hammer of the year performance was followed by a prolific five goals in pre-season, the lone striker role is certainly one suited to his capabilities and there is very little to suggest that he won’t continue to be used like this come next Sunday.
Without a single ball being kicked by the Hammers under Pellegrini, it became apparent that the PL title-winning boss would prefer this formation, he has used it six out of a possible seven times in pre-season, preferring a 4-2-2-2 in the closing-win over Angers SCO, we will undoubtedly see the former formation of the two.
So, now that we have well and truly predicted the starting Xl for West ham’s first outing of the 2018/2019 Premier league season and the first competitive one of the Pellegrini era, all that is left to do is wait and see whether we are correct at Anfield.
Let us know what you think the team is going to look like by heading over to @WestHamMatters_ on Twitter to get in touch and have your say.