West Ham United travel to the defending Premier League champions on Sunday afternoon buoyed by qualification to the Europa League knockout rounds.
With one game to spare, David Moyes has steered the Hammers into the next phase, qualifying as group winners after a comfortable 2-0 win over Rapid Wien on Thursday night. Moyes had the luxury of resting almost the entirety of his first choice Premier League XI with Sunday’s fixture very much in mind.
Here’s the familiar lineup West Ham could deploy to back up their continental triumphs.
Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – One of a division-high seven players to have started every league game for West Ham this season.
Ben Johnson (RB) – “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” West Ham’s 21-year-old fullback certainly adhered to that mantra by swiftly filling the chasm left by Vladimir Coufal’s injury earlier this season – replacing his senior teammate so effectively the Czech international hasn’t broken back into the league XI since his recovery.
Craig Dawson (CB) – While Angelo Ogbonna sends his encouragements from a hospital bed, Dawson is set to fill the void the Italian leaves on the pitch.
Kurt Zouma (CB) – With European football post-Christmas confirmed for a side that sits fourth in the table, the general feeling pervading through West Ham’s camp can scarcely stray from Zouma’s middle name; Happy.
Aaron Cresswell (LB) – Such has been the unrelenting consistency of Cresswell’s performances, his understudy – Arthur Masuaku – has been afforded enough game time to contribute exactly one Premier League pass.
Tomas Soucek (CM) – The goals may not be flowing as readily this season (just one in the league after hitting double digits last term) but he’s still as valued as ever by Moyes.
Said Benrahma (AM) – It’s not even December yet but the slippery number ten (who wears 22) has already exceeded his tally of goal contributions (nine) from the entirety of last season.
Jarrod Bowen (RW) – While most of his colleagues were afforded a rest for the midweek trip to Austria, Bowen was deployed from the start, upholding his record of appearing in every game for his club this season.
Michail Antonio (ST) – So lofty is his current status as one of the division’s elite number nines, a run of three league games without a goal is considered a drought for Antonio.
Pablo Fornals (LW) – For a player Moyes considered to have skirted ‘under the radar’ last season, few have overlooked the remarkable contribution Fornals makes to this West Ham side both on and off the ball.