On Saturday we travel to the West Midlands to take on West Bromwich Albion, in yet another must win encounter.
In recent times the Baggies have struggled somewhat, with a lone draw and four losses in their last five games, and scoring only one goal in the process.
However, before we assume an easy away win at the Hawthorns, West Brom are still a team to be reckoned with. In the late February/early March period, they had a very productive three game run, with wins against Everton, Crystal Palace and an impressive 2-2 draw against Leicester City.
In Salomon Rondon and Saido Berahino, they possess two dangerous strikers, who must be carefully marked throughout the game. Tony Pullis is highly regarded, although somewhat reliant on the use of the long ball as his main style of play.
West Ham approach this game with the advantage of a week’s break, whereas the Baggies will still be recovering from their Monday encounter against Spurs.
While we are in close competition with Manchester City and Manchester United for a potential top four finish, Newcastle did us a huge favour last weekend by holding Liverpool to a 2-2 draw, allowing us to maintain our position in the top six. The time has never been better for West Ham to attempt a run-in of four wins, with a possible 4th spot up for grabs.
An aggressive 4-3-3 starting formation is advocated for this match, and if successful, for use in next week’s home fixture against Swansea City.
I would prefer starting out with Diafra Sakho as our central striker, although, it would come as no surprise to see Bilic preferring Andy Carroll as his first choice starter. Either way, there is a possibility of an impact substitution after about an hour, assuming that whoever takes the field to begin with will put in a 100% physical effort – allowing a fresh pair of legs to help continue the central pressure.
Michail Antonio should be removed from his make-shift right back position to return to his preferred place on the right wing, where he offers many options in attack. The time has come for us to assume that James Tomkins and Sam Byram, both back to full fitness, are capable of performing the duties expected from right back.
By placing Winston Reid a few paces behind Angelo Ogbonna, he will be able to provide extra cover for the nominated right back.
In midfield, I have placed Mark Noble in his familiar holding role, and moved Lanzini and Kouyate into their familiar attacking midfield positions. While Payet has been slotted in at right-wing, he and Lanzini can effectively interchange from their starting positions.
I expect to see Aaron Cresswell joining up with the midfield or attack, as we have become accustomed to. I would expect Angelo Ogbonna to start as one of the centre-backs, with the option of using James Collins at some later stage in the game.
This modified line-up provides us with six to seven players who can be called on to score goals, whether from open play or set pieces.