Carabao Cup Round of 16

Author: . Published: at 7:07pm

Written by: Graham Keeffe

After a brilliant performance against Wolves in the league, West Ham turn their attention back to cup competition. The Hammers face a much tougher test than previous outings as they travel to Merseyside to take on an in-form Everton side. Ancelotti’s men have started their league campaign with three consecutive wins and looked formidable going forward in their previous cup game against Fleetwood Town. Danger men Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and new blue James Rodriguez will prove a tricky task for West Ham and may cause Moyes to rethink the fielding of a less experienced side.

In the previous round’s 5-1 victory over Hull, Moyes opted to play a youthful back four, with Fabian Balbuena acting as the old head in the centre of the defence. Undoubtedly, Ashby, Johnson and Alese proved their worth in that game. However, if we are to target some silverware this season, it may be more optimal to add in one or two more experienced players. With Fredericks out yet again with injury, it is most likely Ashby will retake his place for tonight’s game. The question is however, whether or not Moyes will retain the cup formation of 4-2-3-1 or switch to the 5-4-1 that worked so well against Wolves. The presence of wing backs in that emphatic 4-0 victory allowed wide men Fornals and Bowen to push higher up the pitch, with the latter really seeming to have his true attacking potential unleashed. A tip of the hat should also go to Arthur Masuaku, who appeared very much at home in a wing back role.

As regards central midfield, Moyes has options. A fit again Wilshire did well against Hull as did the versatile Robert Snodgrass. However, should Everton opt to field a 4-3-3 as they did against Fleetwood in the previous round, there is a fear that they could be overrun due to lack of legs. The selection of Soucek and/or Rice could help to counteract this problem. The two appeared to form a proven partnership against Wolves and brought a great deal of energy to the centre of the park. Noble, Lanzini and Cullen also give Moyes much to think about. Anderson and Yarmolenko will also be looking to stake their claims for starting positions.

In terms of attacking options, Haller is the most obvious choice. An improvement in service this season has seen the Frenchman bag 4 in the cup and 1 in the league. As for Antonio, he too has already found the net, carrying over some of the fine form he displayed towards the back-end of the previous campaign. Moyes will be weary of the fact however that Antonio’s game time needs to be meticulously managed in order for him to avoid injury. This again highlights the need to bring in reinforcements up front and with the transfer window soon closing, the club has limited time to do so. However, after Sullivan’s PR own goal last week, not too many fans will be holding out hope that this issue will be addressed.

While the youth players have undeniably impressed in the cup so far this season, it may be time to field some of our more experienced players. Everton are a club with Europe in their sights and much like the Hammers, will be looking to use the cup competitions as momentum for their league games. A victory over fellow Premier League opposition could give West Ham an added boost going into a busy winter period. With the Carabao Cup potentially our best shot at silverware, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be going for it right from the off tonight.