Attacker axed in Bilic 4-2-3-1: West Ham best possible XI to face Chelsea
By Matt Farr
Slaven Bilic must start welcome Andy Carroll back into the starting line-up when West Ham take on Chelsea on Monday night.
Carroll, 28, has missed West Ham’s last two Premier League outings with a groin injury, but co-chairman David Gold has confirmed that the talisman is back in training ahead of the Premier League meeting at Stamford Bridge.
The striker should come in for Michail Antonio, who is set to miss the game through suspension. Antonio picked up two yellow cards during West Ham’s recent 1-1 draw with Watford.
Bilic should make two other change to his starting line-up from the stalemate with the Hornets, and that should see Andre Ayew and Sam Byram come back into the side at the expense of attacker Robert Snodgrass and versatile midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.
That leaves eight players in line to retain their places for West Ham, and they are: Darren Randolph, Aaron Cresswell, Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Manuel Lanzini and Sofiane Feghouli.
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Kouyate is a fantastic defensive-player, but he has been deployed in a right-back role for their last three games, and West Ham may prefer an outright full-back against Chelsea.
The likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Marcos Alonso could be of real damage to West Ham on the right-hand side, and Kouyate’s unfamiliarity with the role could be exploited.
The Hammers are not expected to win the midfield battle at Stamford Bridge on Monday, but central duo Noble and Obiang will a crucial role in winning back possession.
Meanwhile, the trio of Lanzini, Ayew and Feghouli will be the main creative outlet for West Ham, and they must use their pace to unsettle Chelsea’s back-three.
The height of Carroll will also be a significant asset, with Chelsea having struggled in aerial duels over the course of the season.
A win for West Ham would move them within four points of eighth-placed West Brom, and would do wonders for Chelsea’s rivals in the title race.
However, a defeat could see the Hammers overtaken by as many as four sides, leaving them in 13th.
In other West Ham team news, pundit Michael Owen has delivered his prediction for the tie.