By Matt Farr
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is expected to make just one change to his side for their meeting with defending Premier League champions Leicester on Saturday.
The Hammers looked in excellent touch in the emphatic 4-1 victory over Swansea on Monday, and Bilic is almost certain to stick largely with the same team.
The only expected change is the returning Pedro Obiang, who missed the Swansea victory through suspension. Versatile midfielder Havard Nortdveit is likely to make way to accommodate for Obiang, with Cheikhou Kouyate dropping back into defence.
Playmaker Manuel Lanzini is also back in contention following a minor injury setback, with Bilic confirming that he was back in training and available for selection. However, he may not be risked in a starting role.
Darren Randolph is set to continue in goal after a series of commanding performances for the Hammers, with a familiar defensive unit ahead of him.
Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid will look to maintain their solid defensive partnership against last season’s Premier League champions, who are once again without the suspended Jamie Vardy.
The Hammers have conceded just once in their last three games, recording clean sheets against both Hull and Burnley.
Kouyate drops back into a defensive-role to accommodate the returning Obiang in midfield, and Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio are set to take up position in the wider areas.
Antonio netted his eighth goal of the season in the win over Swansea on Boxing Day, and has been one of the major forces driving West Ham’s recent upturn in form.
Mark Noble’s influence in the middle of the park, driving the team forward both in possession and as captain, has also been a defining factor, and there is no reason to suggest why he won’t continue in the midfield.
Slaven Bilic has often shuffled the pack in regards to his attacking trio, but after such a breathtaking display against Swansea, is expected to name the same line-up.
Andre Ayew finally netted his first goal for the club since joining in the summer last time out, and will be encouraged to kick-on for the rest of the season.
Dimtri Payet remains the creative spark, and West Ham’s improved form will no doubt bring an improved Payet. The France international looked out of sorts during the first-half of the campaign, but is finding his best form again.
The reliable Andy Carroll, meanwhile, is expected to lead the attack. The 27-year-old now has two goals since his return from injury, and his aerial ability can pose a major threat to Leicester.
Ahead of the game, Bilic also confirmed that Sam Byram and Reece Oxford had both returned to training following injury setbacks, and they could be in line to make appearances.
However, given a lack of match fitness the pair would likely be restricted to substitute appearances onl.
In other West Ham news, Football Insider reveals three reasons why West Ham should sign Jesus Navas in January.