Back to reality.
West Ham resumed normal service with an underwhelming and pretty dismal performance away at Wolves last outing. The Chelsea result seems a million miles away now and could have been a curse in disguise for West Ham fans over the future of Manuel Pellegrini.
Teams around the Hammers and in similar situations have released their managers, and bar Arsenal, they have all seen results pick up. This will, in turn, lead to fewer managers being available on the market, meaning if Gold and Sullivan are truly ambitious about the club, they will have to not only act but act quickly.
Of course, Pellegrini has been plagued with another slight injury to Michail Antonio, who undoubtedly adds another dimension to this team. Antonio has been declared as available for selection, but whether Pellegrini will chance aggravating another injury is a question only time will tell.
Arsenal meanwhile haven’t won a game since October 24th, and knowing West Ham we will generously put an end to that run… probably.
Here is my predicted starting XI for West Ham for the Arsenal clash:
GK - David Martin
Martin made some smart saves against Wolves, and still looks likely to start between the sticks.
RB - Ryan Fredericks
Expect Fredericks to continue his run in the side.
CB - Angelo Ogbonna
The best centre-back in the team this season.
CB - Fabian Balbuena
I won’t be surprised if Diop is here, but I’m predicting that Balbuena will start.
LB - Aaron Cresswell
Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if Masuaku is here purely on rotation.
CDM - Declan Rice
This man deserves a break probably, but he’s irreplaceable.
CM - Mark Noble
The skipper stays in the side.
CM - Felipe Anderson
I’ve been a big advocate of playing Anderson in the middle and he is beginning to show real quality. Granted, nobody has been playing well recently, but Anderson shows better glimpses than on the wing.
RW - Michail Antonio
This is Pellegrini’s chance to experiment with Antonio and Haller, if Antonio is fit.
LW - Pablo Fornals
This man is slowly getting there. We could finally be seeing Fornals’ true potential, hoping it works out for him.
ST - Sebastien Haller
Been at the end of some harsh criticism in my opinion. Everyone has short memories of the likes of Zaza, and how it took Arnie 18 months to really settle. Have some patience.