A nice Selection Headache for David Moyes as the Hammers head to the South Coast

That’s the first international break over. Personally I’m not a fan of how the domestic season gets interrupted by three international breaks before a dozen Premier League games have been completed. I think we get four more league games before the next interruption and then four more before the November internationals. Of course at West Ham we have the Europa League getting underway very soon too, and I’m looking forward to that.

And thinking of our foray into Europe the transfer window has now slammed shut, and I believe we appear to have done very well this time around. David Moyes stated publicly that he didn’t just want players to make up the numbers in the squad, he wanted footballers that could enhance the first team, whilst allowing for the additional fixtures that we would be playing on Thursday nights in Europe. Four established international footballers would appear to be a much better result than seemed likely with just a few days of the window to go, although of course as always we have to wait and see how well they make the transition into our squad, and how the manager integrates them into the team. It will be interesting to see how quickly they get their chance to show what they can do, but with the opening Europa League fixtures less than a week away it shouldn’t be long.

All four of our new recruits will ensure that there will be strong competition for places in the starting eleven in most parts of the team, especially in goal, at centre back, and in an attacking sense. There is no direct alternative for Antonio though, and we wait to see how this one plays out when he is either injured or needs a rest. Zouma, especially, will put pressure on the centre backs for a starting place, as will Vlasic on Bowen, Fornals and Benrahma, who have all started the season in excellent form.

As this season was getting underway it appeared that Lanzini was looking at a new role playing deeper than in the past, but it will now be even more difficult for him to get into the team, with Kral in a similar position too. You’d want both Rice and Soucek to be starting as many games as possible, but from what I’ve seen I’d imagine Kral playing in their role when one or the other is not available. But perhaps our manager has other ideas? And Mark Noble will surely find opportunities even more limited for him to play a part in his last season. One thing is for sure though, we now have so much more quality cover for injuries than has been the case in the past. At this moment David Moyes is perhaps more spoiled for choice than at any time at the West Ham helm.

With the season barely underway it’s hard to predict what to expect at Southampton. We have won six out of the seven most recent Premier League encounters, including the final game of last season when 10,000 of us were lucky enough in the ballot to be able to attend the game. The Saints have yet to win a league game this season, drawing with Newcastle and Manchester United and going down at Everton. They sit thirteenth in the (very) early season table. On the other hand we are second following our two excellent wins and the slightly disappointing draw at home to Palace. Tottenham are the only team with 100% record after just three games and they visit Selhurst Park this weekend.

The newcomers have barely had the chance to meet their new team mates yet, so perhaps it is a little early for any of them to be pushing for a place in the starting eleven. For me, if any do get the nod I reckon it will be Zouma, but the others will surely be warming the bench waiting for their chance.

Despite being away from home we are slight favourites with the bookmakers to win this game at 6/4, with Southampton at 15/8 and the draw at 23/10. There were 6 goals in our opening game this season, 5 in the next, and 4 in the Palace match. I reckon 3 this time, with us winning 3-0. We’ve put 3 past Southampton in 5 of our last 9 games against them, so why not 6 out of 10? What are the chances?

4 thoughts on “A nice Selection Headache for David Moyes as the Hammers head to the South Coast”

  1. As you suggest, Richard, very good players may be left out now and then: unimaginable pre-Moyes. There are goals in the side even if Antonio isn’t playing, and Zouma was, I think, a bargain. Makes January simple, I think? Striker…

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    1. Hi John
      I think that Zouma could turn out to be a brilliant buy – our central defenders are ageing (apart from Diop) and can get caught out with extreme pace. I reckon he’s looking at the longer term with an all French centre back partnership?

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  2. I guess the problem for Moyes is that he only wants to invest in a striker that he feels is as good as Antonio. He likes the system of one striker, so whoever he buys would be waiting on the sidelines until Antonio was injured or needed a rest. I don’t think he wants to play anyone alongside Antonio. Perhaps he feels that with the attacking players he has now got he doesn’t need an Antonio alternative – nobody could play the role as he does, and so he would employ a different formation if Antonio was out? I’ve no idea really. But I have to say he did stick to his guns in only buying players of quality, not ones to just make up squad numbers. It will work provided we don’t get too many injuries. Interesting though, that the number of injuries appears to be much lower under Moyes than in recent seasons, or is that just my imagination running away with me?

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    1. I think he is looking at a long term Zouma-Diop partnership. Diop has all the raw ingredients, Zouma can really help him, I think – and Ogbonna is still playing so well. Moyes knows about centre-halves. At some point we’ll need a left back, though Cresswell is playing well he can’t go on forever (as Coufal surely will ;). I wonder how Masuaku will fit in? I noticed in the last home game that Fornals was playing at times as part of a front two with Antonio. He’s been saying how much he enjoys partnering our talisman. Fortunately there are so many goals in the side that maybe we’ve been too obsessed with having another specialist striker? I think the plan B is, as you suggest, to use all those attacking midfielders. The hope is, I think that Vlasic will supply goals, and Benrahma scored plenty at Brentford. I don’t think you’re imagining things re. the injuries. There too, Moyes seems to have effected a behind the scenes revolution!

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