David Moyes is likely to make several changes to his West Ham starting lineup for their Premier League clash with Newcastle on Saturday evening.
The Hammers are coming off consecutive wins for the first time since the end of October after claiming a 2-0 win over Everton before an FA Cup success over League One Derby.
But now Moyes must make a decision on his starting lineup for a big game against high-flying Newcastle, knowing that a loss could see them plunged straight back into a relegation battle.
In goal Alphonse Areola got the nod in the cup, but it’s clear that Lukasz Fabianski is still the first-choice option for Moyes and the Poland international will return between the sticks.
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Moyes has gone with a five-man defence in the last two games where they’ve been successful and that’s likely to continue here against a Magpies side performing at their maximum level right now.
Kurt Zouma is still suffering with a quadriceps injury and is likely to miss the game, which means Nayef Aguerd and Angelo Ogbonna remain the only natural centre-backs that are fit. Thilo Kehrer started in the cup game, but Aaron Cresswell has often featured in that third centre-back role and could step in once again.
Vladimir Coufal was impressive against Everton with his energy allowing him up and down the flank quickly but also be covered by the defenders, while Emerson was signed from Chelsea exactly for this role.
Tomas Soucek did well against Derby, but the midfield two only has one spot available because Declan Rice is an automatic starter as the best player at the club. Alongside him, Moyes will opt for Lucas Paqueta’s energy and creativity ahead of the Czech.
In attack Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio have rekindled their fine relationship in recent games and both are likely to start again on the right wing and as the number nine respectively, with new signing Danny Ings out injured.
Their partner in attack could be one of several, but it won’t be Maxwel Cornet as he continues to miss out with a calf injury. But despite the good form of Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma has shone regularly this season and the Algerian should be the man to start.
West Ham predicted XI v Newcastle: Fabianski; Aguerd, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Coufal, Rice, Paqueta, Emerson; Bowen, Antonio, Benrahma.