Some West Ham United fans have been troubled over the potential signing of Said Benrahma and where it would leave Pablo Fornals.
The £24m Spaniard has become a key figure of David Moyes’s new-look West Ham side this season.
The Hammers are playing a 523 wingback formation with great success of late.
West Ham have looked a quality outfit since the dismal opening day defeat to Newcastle.
The Hammers were not at the races that day.
West Ham’s winning formula
But a formation and personnel change since has seen West Ham come away disappointed not to have beaten Arsenal away before recording a 4-0 win over Wolves and a 3-0 success on the road at Leicester.
Fornals has been key to that success. His influence on the team has been steadily growing and it came to a head at Leicester where he was one of the best players on the pitch, scoring a superb goal and laying on an assist for Jarrod Bowen.
Playing on the left, Fornals has become something of a fan favourite for his workrate.
Now he is starting to add goals and assists to his game despite being a central midfielder by design.
His form has seen question marks raised by some West Ham fans over the club’s reported pursuit of Brentford playmaker Benrahma.
West Ham are said to be edging closer to signing Benrahma (Evening Standard).
Is new formation the answer to potential dilemma over Fornals and Benrahma?
The Algerian plays in the same position Fornals currently occupies.
Hammers supporters are worried Benrahma will be an automatic first choice given his reported £30million price tag.
But is this how West Ham can fit both Benrahma and Fornals in the same side if the 25-year-old signs before Friday’s domestic window closes?
The 433 – or 4123/4321 variant – formation was suggested by West Ham Twitter account @OneTwoWestHam. And it has gone down well with supporters.
Against “weaker” opposition? pic.twitter.com/iOOzgzu2bh
— OneTwo (@onetwoWestHam) October 13, 2020
It sees Fornals play a more natural position in the centre on the left hand side as part of a three-man midfield. Declan Rice takes up the central role with Tomas Soucek the other side.
That makes space – should he sign – for Benrahma in his natural position left forward, Bowen remains on the right and Michail Antonio up top.
It does mean switching back to a four in defence. That raises the uncomfortable issue of whether to play fan favourite Arthur Masuaku there.
What the 523 formation has done for West Ham is free up Masuaku in terms of defensive responsibility. While simultaneously giving more cover for Aaron Cresswell, operating as a left centre-back.
Cresswell’s lack of pace is less exposed while he is left with more time and space to deliver crosses into the box from a more dangerous position too, as highlighted by his assist for Antonio at Leicester.
One would assume Masuaku would get the nod at left-back for now with pressing from the front by Benrahma and cover defensively from Fornals.
West Ham would have strong options for the first time in five years
Angelo Ogbonna would be the guaranteed starter in the centre of defence with Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena and new signing Craig Dawson competing for the other spot when this formation is used.
Right back would go to new boy Vladimir Coufal.
There was even a suggestion Ben Johnson might be a more defensively solid option at left-back. But that would mean dropping both Masuaku and Cresswell.
OneTwoWestHam suggested the formation could be used against so-called lesser opposition.
Of course right now there is no reason for Moyes to change things. Particularly given the run of fixtures West Ham face against tough opposition.
But how long has it been since West Ham have had these kind of options?
You probably have to go back to the Farewell Boleyn season of 2015/16. And that is a good template to follow given the Hammers finished just four points off the Champions League spots in that campaign.
Of course football is a game of opinions. So if you are on social media why not comment with your thoughts.