West Ham’s poor start to the season will have given Manuel Pellegrini much to ponder over the international break.
The Chilean has no shortage of selection dilemmas because of his side’s underperformance so far. He is still searching for the right formula and will be looking for a positive result when the Hammers travel to Everton on Sunday.
Throughout the week, we’ll be looking at the big calls Pellegrini must make ahead of the trip to Goodison Park. Here, we’ve examined his selection dilemma in central midfield.
Who are the options?
Pellegrini has really struggled for balance in the engine room so far. Skipper Mark Noble offers leadership but is a fading force. Declan Rice excelled at centre-half last season but it seems like the Chilean wants him in midfield.
Jack Wilshere was supposed to bring creativity from deep, but his best position is still up for debate. Pedro Obiang offers energy, while Carlos Sanchez is arguably the only specialist defensive midfield option.
Record signing Felipe Anderson looks best as a number 10, so could come into the debate too.
Who will they be up against?
Gylfi Sigurdsson has been one of the main beneficiaries of Marco Silva’s new attacking philosophy and is finally shining in blue.
The Icelandic international will be looking to exploit the situation if Pellegrini once more fails to solve his defensive midfield conundrum at Goodison. He is so good at getting between the lines.
Further back, the energetic Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye are capable of forcing the Hammers midfield back and Morgan Schneiderlin is another who looks reinvented by Silva. It’ll be a tough challenge.
Pellegrini has questions to answer. Who is the best defensive midfield option in the squad? What is Jack Wilshere’s best position? Can Mark Noble still do the job?
Nobody has covered themselves in glory thus far. On paper, Rice alongside Wilshere at the back of midfield, with Anderson in the number 10 role offers quality, guile and a fair amount of energy.
Having Obiang’s energy in the engine room could be useful, as the ability to get up and down has proved an issue. Sanchez’s experience and discipline makes him a specialist holder, something Rice isn’t just yet.
However, Noble is the biggest leader in the side; something is missing when he doesn’t play.
In a 4-2-3-1, I would go with Rice as the most defensively minded, Wilshere to knit it together, with Anderson in the number 10 role, making things happen.
Having Sanchez to kill the game or Obiang to inject energy are both strong options off the bench, as well. Noble will be missed by many fans but it is tough to see where his best role is in this team.