West Ham kick off the post transfer window era with a trip down South to Brighton and Hove Albion. Deadline day acquisition Jordan Hugill has traveled with the team and will make the squad for match day.
West Ham look to continue an impressive unbeaten start to 2018 with another performance that will return points, and with a stronger squad than their previous match at home to Crystal Palace, should. With a 2-0-3 record since the New Year, West Ham are doing their best to stave off the relegation zone, despite the mere eleven point difference from 8th to 20th.
Brighton have gone 0-2-2 in 2018, with losses to Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion. Their track record against West Ham this season shows a different story however, having served up a 0-3 thumping at home for the Hammers. That match saw manager Slaven Bilic begin a decline in fan support and eventually helped in his sacking.
For West Ham, David Moyes needs to learn from his predecessors mistakes, and his faithful diamond formation should help. Brighton used their speed down the wing, mostly with José Izquierdo’s blazing pace, to open up the Hammers, and sent in balls to striker Glenn Murray. For the Hammers, the previous match saw their poor defensive structure taken advantage of, but their own wingers could change this.
For West Ham, the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and Aaron Cresswell should be able to support the back three to quell the Brighton offence. As well, Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate will drop into defensive support as they did to shut down Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha.
That brings in the tricky question of “who is going to start?” for West Ham. Well, the formation has shown that it wont change, regardless of opposition or squad depth. Here is my best guess:
Michail Antonio’s return from injury and disciplinary suspension will force out the successful Sam Byram on the wing. Antonio starting up top makes sense due to his position in a striker duo with Chicharito. Most likely he will play 45 minutes or slightly over (capped at 60) and new face Hugill will make his debut. Pairing with Chicharito is a no brainer after his game against Crystal Palace.
The Mexican fox in the box worked well with Joao Mario, West Ham’s other January addition, and has developed his game outside of the box. Him with Antonio and Hugill’s physical and aerial presence should prove to be effective against the gulls of Brighton.
West Ham have the team to take on and defeat Brighton, although I’ve thought that before. If Moyes’ defensive drilling can keep its shape, the added squad depth with Hugill’s acquisition, and Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, and Michail Antonio returning from injury should be the difference for West Ham over Brighton.
Come On You Irons!