After four games of the Premier League season, there was a chance that Manuel Lanzini would be needed as the saviour of West Ham’s season.
With Manuel Pellegrini’s summer signings struggling to gel, it could well have been a case of waiting for the Argentine magician to return in order to guide the Hammers out of trouble.
Fast forward three league matches and the landscape has changed. Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko have come into their own, which has brought more out of Marko Arnautovic.
Pellegrini’s settled 4-3-3 has inspired the upturn, so we’ve decided to ask the question; where does Lanzini fit into this side?
The obvious solution is to switch formation. Pellegrini could shift to a 4-2-3-1, replacing Mark Noble or Pedro Obiang with Lanzini; with the Argentine playing as a number 10.
That would give West Ham a mouth-watering front four, but could mean the midfield struggles evident earlier in the season return.
A two-man defensive midfield axis proved much less sturdy than the current 4-3-3; Pellegrini paid the price earlier in the season for an imbalanced engine room.
If the 4-3-3 remains, perhaps Felipe Anderson’s position would be most at risk. Lanzini could operate cutting in from the left; but would Pellegrini leave out his record signing?
The 4-3-3 has been so crucial to Pellegrini’s success that if Lanzini were to come into this team right now, Anderson may be sweating on his place.
In reality, Pellegrini should use his discretion; he can probably get away with 4-2-3-1 in certain home games, but away from home or against the bigger sides, 4-3-3 with an elite substitute is the way he should go.