This is the West Ham team David Moyes simply has to start at Watford as the Hammers look to get their faltering season back on track.

West Ham are due to travel to Vicarage Road to face the Hornets on Tuesday.

The fixture will be Watford’s first game for 18 days after a host of Covid cancellations. It will be West Ham’s second match in 48 hours.

Watford are one of the favourites for relegation and on paper should be just the fixture West Ham need to get their faltering season back on track. But West Ham fans – and undoubtedly Moyes too – were thinking the same before losing 3-2 to Southampton on Boxing Day.

West Ham United v Southampton - Premier League
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Moyes’s side have tumbled out of the top four, been knocked out of the Carabao Cup by bitter rivals Spurs and could end the week in eighth place following a dismal run of one win in their last seven Premier League matches.

West Ham must stop the rot at Watford.

And changes are needed to spark this team back into life.

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The West Ham team David Moyes simply has to start at Watford to get faltering season back on track

To that end this is the West Ham team that Moyes simply must start at Watford to get a reaction.

And it would involve making four big changes – one of them enforced due to Declan Rice’s suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Saints.

Alphonse Areola must come in for Lukasz Fabianski. The Polish ‘keeper has been a tremendous servant for West Ham and will still have a big part to play this season.

But Areola needs to be given a chance to establish himself now as we look to the future.

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Ben Johnson should – and surely will – come in at left-back for the disastrous Arthur Masuaku. The DR Congo man was signed as a left-back from Olympiacos. He is – and always has been – quite simply one of the worst defenders in West Ham’s modern history.

And he offers very little in terms of goals and assists if played in a more attacking role.

The biggest mystery about Masuaku is not just how he is still at the club – because it is hard to offload poor players – but rather how he continues to get game time season after season.

Johnson will come in at left-back for West Ham against Watford and the team will be all the better for it.

Moyes has a big decision to make in central midfield. He has long been hinting he sees Manuel Lanzini in a deeper role – where he shone against Burnley last season in Rice’s absence.

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He will get a chance to see how that plays out against Watford. And hopefully it will allow Tomas Soucek to get back to his natural game having been left utterly exposed by the freedom given to Rice this season.

Michail Antonio should be the fourth change, coming back in from the start up front with Jarrod Bowen reverting to wide right with Nikola Vlasic and either Pablo Fornals or Said Benrahma behind.

It is splitting hairs between Vlasic, Fornals and Benrahma. All three have been dire of late.

West Ham United v Southampton - Premier League
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But Vlasic has showed flashes while Benrahma scored last time out so perhaps Vlasic and Benrahma get the nod here.

If Moyes had the players available Issa Diop would be one of the first out of the team. The hapless defender is ridiculously rash and a shadow of the player that looked like a world beater during his first season back in 2018.

But the Scot is limited so Diop will continue to give Craig Dawson and West Ham fans nightmares.

The West Ham team Moyes simply has to start at Watford:

Areola, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Johnson, Soucek, Lanzini, Vlasic, Benrahma, Bowen, Antonio.

West Ham team that needs to start against Watford
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