West Ham United boss David Moyes looks set to make one big change for this lunchtime’s kick-off against Newcastle.
The Hammers and Newcastle meet at St James’s Park with very different objectives.
While Newcastle are battling to stave off relegation, West Ham are enjoying their best season for 35 years under Moyes.
Two sides with very contrasting objectives
West Ham are right in the mix for the Champions League places. And Newcastle know a win pushes them to the brink of safety.
The Irons will go third with victory over Newcastle.
Newcastle will be no pushovers, though. After an impressive win over Burnley last time out the Geordies will have their tails up.
While West Ham are missing key players in the shape of Michail Antonio, Declan, Newcastle have some of theirs back with Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin fit.
Moyes has mixed news on the injury front ahead of the game.
And the Scot looks set to make one big change to the side with West Ham rock Angelo Ogbonna coming back in after more than two months out.
Moyes set to make one big change but ponders a second
He will replace Aaron Cresswell who Moyes admitted was a doubt for the game after picking up an injury against Leicester.
The West Ham manager did say he had a decision to make on Cresswell which suggests he will be back for Chelsea next week if he is not risked against the Magpies (whufc.com).
Bringing Ogbonna in for Cresswell is not the only change being considered by Moyes.
He is also pondering a second, whether to drop Arthur Masuaku.
West Ham look set to stick with a back five, meaning a towering back three of Ogbonna, Craig Dawson and Issa Diop.
But Masuaku’s place is in doubt after he was at fault for both of Leicester’s goals when West Ham were cruising at 3-0 up last time out.
Moyes could be heard barking at Masuaku to pass or clear the ball when the DR Congo international kept trying risky bits of skill or to take people on in his own half.
Masuaku puts place in jeopardy but looks set to earn a reprieve as West Ham stick with back five
Masuaku’s dawdling on the ball directly led to Leicester’s first goal. And that ruined West Ham’s unique record of being the only club in the Premier League not to have conceded a goal as the result of an error this season.
Moyes is pondering bringing in young right back Ben Johnson at left wingback. It is a move he has done before with mixed results.
Certainly if Moyes switched to a back four Johnson would deputise for Cresswell at left-back over Masuaku. The latter just cannot be trusted to defend at Premier League level.
Indeed Moyes could also consider bringing Said Benrahma in for Masuaku as he has proved he is willing to work hard for the team defensively.
But Masuaku looks set to earn a reprieve for now.
He will start at left wingback meaning West Ham look set to make just one change for Newcastle.
West Ham predicted starting XI for Newcastle:
Fabianski, Coufal, Diop, Dawson, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Fornals, Noble, Soucek, Lingard, Bowen.