West Ham’s Ideal XI
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 14 February 2019 at 7:00pm
Written by: @daena_bodie
Injuries seem to be West Ham’s curse. It’s all doom and gloom on the face of it, but if the Hammers had a full complement of players there could be a completely different buzz around the club.
If the Hammers squad was gifted a clean bill of health it’s no secret there would be talent to put on the pitch. Fortunately, we have the power to pick our best starting XI if injuries didn’t exist. So we had a go.
Due to the balance of West Ham’s current crop players and Pellegrini’s favoured forward thinking style, we’ve gone for a more attacking 4-2-3-1 formation.
There’s a lot of discussion to be had on starting line-ups but it’s hard to argue against having this man in goal. A serious Hammer of the Year contender and one of the best goalkeepers the club has seen in a long time.
Professional in every sense of the word, Zabaleta is one of those players who performs consistently week in, week out. Despite his age, Zabaleta has rarely had a poor game for the Hammers and even though Fredericks has had a recent run in the team, Zaba remains first choice here.
One of the easiest choices in this starting XI. Balbuena is an unsung hero for West Ham. His presence has been instrumental so far this season and since his injury the defense hasn’t looked nearly as solid.
Alongside Balbuena, Diop has proven he can be a top Premier League defender. The relationship he has forged with the Paraguayan makes this pairing a no brainer.
Things continue to be fairly straightforward on this one. Without many options at left-back, it was either going to be Masuaku or Cresswell. Fortunately, Cresswell has recently regained his form and with Masuaku openly telling fans left back isn’t his true position, this choice makes sense.
The Basmati Busquets. One of the best youngsters to come through West Ham’s academy, who alongside Fabianski, has been a top performer this season. At just 20-years-old Rice has become a permanent fixture in the starting lineup. The young Englishman has a career full of promise and has now announced that he will be representing the Three Lions on an international level. Congrats, Dec.
DM: Mark Noble
Let the debate begin. Mark Noble makes this starting XI for more than just being West Ham’s captain. Wilshere hasn’t been able to show fans what he can offer, Obiang has gone missing on multiple occasions, and Noble continues to prove that he offers more than just a passion for the club. He wants to win every tackle, has an excellent range of passing, and while some may argue his legs have gone, alongside Rice, the pair have created a fairly sturdy partnership.
Pace to burn, dribbling that would make Masuaku drool, and the ability to make key passes means Anderson has earned his place. Arguments can be tabled that he should play through the middle, but with his speed and direct dribbling he is well suited out wide and that doesn’t stop him from floating inside to make things happen, it’s a win-win.
This could have gone one of two ways; it was either Nasri or Lanzini. Just the short glimpse that Nasri gave the fans was enough to make him a real contender here, but the thought of Lanzini and Anderson linking up with the rest of the attack was enough. When he’s on his game, Lanzini is a dangerous threat and can get the Hammers flowing in the final third. Putting him in an area where he can float and get on the ball to link play should be a spectacular sight.
As ever, this injury couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time. Yarmolenko was beginning to find form and settle into the Premier League. His quality is undeniable and for his height, he has great speed and footwork. Much like Anderson, Yarmolenko can get the game going at the pace he wants before exploding past a player. A definite threat and combining that with Anderson and Lanzini could provide some exciting attacking football for Hammers fans to watch.
Yeah, Arnautovic edges this one. If we are disregarding injury, we have to overlook what happened during January and that means that Arnie is the man. When he’s on his game he is a nightmare for defenders and he has the technical ability to join in on the tidy and intricate football the three behind him would play. He’s not a poacher like Chicharito but he offers a well-rounded set of skills that allow him to match a variety of styles. He isn’t shy of ruffling a few feathers either.
Would the above players fill your preferred first team? Let us know below or @WestHamWaycouk