The £17.5million deal that brought Andriy Yarmolenko from Borussia Dortmund to London Stadium this summer sparked huge excitement in and around West Ham United.
However, in recent weeks it has become clear that he is far from fit after suffering from thigh and hip problems in pre-season. Against Wolves, in West Ham’s most recent defeat, there were glimpses of quality in Yarmolenko’s performance after he entered the game at half time but overall, he seemed way off the pace.
Yarmolenko took two huge steps towards match fitness on Sunday by not only starting for Ukraine against Slovakia but also scoring the winner from the spot. This weekend seems the perfect opportunity to throw Yarmolenko into the starting line-up and give him the chance to exploit the gaps in Everton’s defence.
Attitude and Charisma
West Ham fans have always warmed to players with outstanding technical ability but just as important is an individual who is nonconformist and capable of producing magical moments, like Dimitri Payet, Paolo Di Canio and Marko Arnautović to name but a few West Ham fan favourites who fit this profile.
There is no doubt that Yarmolenko has the attitude and if he were to start against Everton this weekend, it would be the perfect opportunity to see whether he has the potential to become a talisman also.
Since converting Marko Arnautovic into a striker, Manuel Pellegrini has given the responsibility in right midfield to either Robert Snodgrass or Michail Antonio from the start of games. Snodgrass has shown very little promise after a successful loan spell at Aston Villa last season, whilst Antonio’s string of injuries have left him lacking confidence and without the blistering pace he showed in his first two seasons at the club.
So far this season West Ham’s full-backs have been tasked with providing quality service for their attackers and on the whole, they have been unsuccessful. Yarmolenko would be a refreshing alternative – he is unpredictable but West Ham are in desperate need of some eccentricity in their build up play.
Naturally Pellegrini will need to approach the game with an effective game plan. He would need to give Yarmolenko the freedom to attack the space but also take on either Baines or Digne in Everton’s defence. Fundamentally, there must be more of an attacking impetus against Everton because West Ham cannot rely on their leaky defence to keep a clean sheet.
If Yarmolenko does make the starting XI it would be the best opportunity he has had this season to come in off the right, create chances and put an end to West Ham’s dismal run of form.