By Harvey Byrne
West Ham face Southampton on Sunday and their one weak area is the right back position with either Cedric Soares or Cuco Martina occupying the role, who aren’t known to be great defenders.
This means that Slaven Bilic should put his most gifted player in Dimitri Payet on their side in the left-wing role, who will be sure to carve out plenty of opportunities from that side of the pitch.
Meanwhile, Simone Zaza is unlikely to get much joy from the air against Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte, meaning that Bilic must deploy an extra body in midfield to play a more steady passing game.
The south coast side have also switched to a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation under new manager Claude Puel, stacking the centre of the pitch and the Hammers will need an extra body to cope with the Saints.
The most likely candidate to step into midfield will be Havard Nordtveit alongside Mark Noble and Cheikou Kouyate and they will be looking to make sure that the Hammers don’t concede four goals in a Premier League tie for the third consecutive match.
The change from a 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-3-3 will see attacker Manuel Lanzini move to the bench for Nodtveit.
The Argentine attacker has recently returned from an injury, while Payet must play and Michail Antonio is currently in great form, resulting in Lanzini dropping to a substitute position.
On the other side of the pitch, Winston Reid has to return to the starting line-up, even though he has just recently returned to training.
The Hammers are currently in disastrous form defensively, conceding 11 goals in their last three league games and the New Zealand international must replace James Collins in the back four to put a stop to the run.
The east London club will be looking to build momentum from their midweek victory over Accrington.
However, given their poor start they can only move up to 13th position with a win and results depending, while they can also drop to the foot of the Premier League table if they suffer a loss.