How will West Ham's first XI look following transfer deadline day?
After a good first season under Slaven Bilic, West Ham have strengthened their squad and look set for another top ten finish. It was important that they built this summer, as they now have the facilities of a top club and need to have a squad to suit. They didn’t manage to secure the big name striker that they wanted, but they are a club making steady progress and there is optimism for the season ahead.
The number one at West Ham is Adrian and he is a firm favourite among the fans. There aren’t many more consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League and the Spaniard is underrated outside of East London. He has significantly improved since moving to England and looks set to be the goalkeeper at West Ham for years to come.
During the summer transfer market, West Ham improved the competition for the full back places with the signings of Alvaro Arbeloa and Arthur Masuaku. However, I still expect Sam Byram and Aaron Cresswell to be the starters when everybody is fit. The competition will help them and the experience of Arbeloa can only have a positive effect, but the two English full backs should be first choice at West Ham.
On deadline day, it was crucial that they kept Angelo Ogbonna after interest from Chelsea. He was excellent duing his debut season, with his pace and mobility giving him the ability to recover when a mistake was made. This is important in a league like the Premier League and he saved the team on numerous occasions.
His partner is likely to be Winston Reid, who has been one of the best centre backs in the league over the last three or four years. He is also mobile and offers leadership to the side. Last season, he and Ogbonna struck up a reliable partnership. It would be foolish to break that up.
They brought in Havard Nordveit to add competition for the central midfield positions and it was a shrewd move on a free transfer. However, it is difficult to see him breaking into the starting eleven at West Ham. Mark Noble is a home-grown icon at the club and he continues to work tirelessly in the centre of the park. If they continue to improve, they will need to upgrade him as he does have his limitations, but at the moment he remains in their strongest eleven.
His partner should be Cheikhou Kouyate, as he meshes well with Noble. The Englishman sits back and works hard when the other side have the ball. Meanwhile, Kouyate drives forward with the ball and is vital to the transition play. He is also capable of being aggressive and winning the ball back. Furthermore, the midfielder chips in with a few goals and has been a key player for West Ham since signing.
This is where things get difficult as West Ham have a number of quality options in attack. The first name on the team-sheet has to be Dimitri Payet, as he is a Champions League calibre player. His career has developed late, which will prevent him from playing for a huge club, but that is where he should be. Payet can influence matches on a consistent basis with his creativity and dynamism. He is a hero at West Ham already and they need to build the attack around him.
The two they should opt for on the flanks are Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew. They were both excellent during their debut seasons in England and will be a handful for West Ham this year. It was unfortunate that Ayew suffered an early injury, but it provides an opportunity to Sofiane Feghouli, who will provide flair on the left wing.
For years now we have expected Andy Carroll to lead the line at West Ham. However, he continues to suffer with injuries, which is why they have brought in Simone Zaza. He is known for his missed penalty at Euro 2016, but he is a good striker who has played a big part in Sassuolo’s rise to the top of Italian football. He wasn’t given many opportunities at Juventus and will be eager to grasp the one given to him at West Ham.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Craig Ballantyne
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