Jul 26, 2017
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With four new faces, how are West Ham likely to line-up this season?

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Slaven Bilic has been one of the busiest Premier League managers this summer, having landed four players so far. The consensus is that he has done excellent business, with Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart (on loan), Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez all joining West Ham in this transfer window.

A squad overhaul was required following a disappointing campaign and Bilic has wasted no time in improving the quality of player at his disposal. Hopes are high among supporters that they can push for a European place. But, how are the Hammers likely to line-up when they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United for their opening game of the season in just a few weeks?

Defence

One position where West Ham are sure to look different is in goal. The capture of England number one Hart from Manchester City, albeit on loan, was a huge coup for Bilic. He is a class above Adrian and Darren Randolph, who has since moved to Middlesbrough, and he will be an authoritative figure between the posts.

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Bilic experimented with three at the back at times last season, but having signed Zabaleta he may revert to a four-man defence. Aaron Creswell is the Hammers’ first-choice left-back but it is not quite so clear cut in the middle. Winston Reid will likely start, either alongside Jose Fonte or the left-footed Angelo Ogbonna.

If Bilic wishes to adopt a 3-4-3 formation, he has the resources to make it work, with James Collins also in the mix.

Midfield

Skipper and cult hero Mark Noble, who missed the tail end of last season through an abdominal injury, is set to return to a holding role in central midfield. He would complement Pedro Obiang or Cheikhou Kouyate, although the latter having been ruled out for the first month of the campaign with a knee problem has put a spanner in the works.

As such, Obiang may well start against Manchester United. Manuel Lanzini was a real live wire for West Ham last term and with two shielding midfielders behind him, he will have freedom to roam forward.

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Attack

This is the area of the pitch in which West Ham fans will see significant changes. Michail Antonio was the club’s leading scorer last season and is sure to retain his place on the right wing.

New signing Arnautovic will take up a place on the left, although unlike a traditional winger, the Austrian likes to cut inside. He should be a real goal scoring threat. Up top, there is real excitement surrounding Hernandez, who is a potent finisher.

This is what West Ham lacked last season, particularly with the injury problems that beset Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew. Both these players increase competition for starting places in attack and can allow Bilic to play two out-and-out strikers, if he so desires.

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