By Matt Farr
Slaven Bilic is expected to make at least two changes to his West Ham side for their upcoming clash with Chelsea in the Premier League on Monday.
West Ham will be without the suspended Michail Antonio, following his red card in the 1-1 draw with Watford last week.
Andre Ayew, who came off the bench to net the equaliser for West Ham, is expected to return to the starting XI in his place.
Andy Carroll is also expected to return to the starting line-up, in place of attacker Robert Snodgrass, after recovering from a groin injury.
Chelsea will pose a substantial attacking threat to West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, and Bilic may continue with a back-four to accommodate the Blues’ firepower.
The likes of Eden Hazard and Pedro will likely be given free roam of the attacking-third, while wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses will also bomb forward.
The make-up of the West Ham back-four is likely to remain unchanged, with the versatile Cheikhou Kouyate set to continue at right-back – a role he has played during their last three Premier League outings.
He is expected to feature alongside Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid and Jose Fonte, while Darren Randolph is also set to retain his place in between the sticks for West Ham.
Mark Noble’s central midfield partnership with Pedro Obiang is also set to continue, but they will likely have their work cut out against Chelsea enforcer N’Golo Kante.
With hitman Carroll being declared fit ahead of the clash by West Ham chief David Gold, the 28-year-old goalscorer is set to return from his two-game absence to lead the line.
West Ham will be keen to press home Carroll’s height advantage against a Chelsea side that are vulnerable in the air.
Meanwhile, Ayew is also expected to be handed a start, following his goal-grabbing cameo against Watford last time out.
Attacking duo Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini could also continue as the chief supply outlet, a role that will be made all the more important in the absence of the suspended Antonio.
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.