Michail Antonio to start, Mark Noble decision – West Ham predicted XI to take on Watford

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David Moyes has some big calls to make when selecting his XI to take on Watford this afternoon, none more so than who will replace Declan Rice.

The Hammers are in a poor run of form and fell to a disappointing 3-2 defeat at home to Southampton two days ago. The closeness of the fixtures gives West Ham the opportunity to bounce back quickly but comes with the risk of injury and extreme fatigue should he elect to select the majority of the team that lost on Boxing Day.

Moyes will be forced into at least one change with Rice suspended for one match having picked up five bookings over the first half of the season. Losing their star man will of course be a huge loss to the Hammers and his replacement will be a major decision for the manager.

Club captain Mark Noble or Alex Kral could slot in alongside Tomas Soucek, or the manager could elect for a more attacking move and play Manuel Lanzini in a deep-lying playmaker role, a position he occupied at times last season.

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Lukasz Fabianski will once again start in goal and the centre-backs in front of him are set to be Issa Diop and Craig Dawson with the Hammers having little by way of choice in the position.

Arthur Masuaku was given the nod over Ben Johnson against the Saints but Johnson is expected to start at Vicarage Road this afternoon at left-back with Vladimir Coufal retaining his spot in the team on the right.

Moyes has previously suggested that Noble would be a key player for him around the festive fixtures and because of this, the manager is likely to partner the skipper with Soucek in midfield.

Ahead of the midfield axis, Moyes is set to make changes to his attacking quartet after admitting his disappointment with the first-half attacking display on Boxing Day.

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Uncharacteristically for Moyes, the manager made a double change at half-time on Sunday, replacing Nikola Vlasic and Pablo Fornals with Lanzini and Michail Antonio.

Both Lanzini and Antonio are expected to start today with the Argentine in the No.10 role and Antonio leading the line. Jarrod Bowen is a Moyes favourite and will likely feature from the right leaving one spot for Vlasic, Fornals, and Said Benrahma.

After the Algerian’s goal against Southampton, and his impending absence from the Hammers squad due to international duty, Benrahma is expected to start with Moyes keen to get everything he can out of the mercurial attacker before a lengthy spell away from the club.

Predicted West Ham XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Johnson; Noble, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Benrahma; Antonio

Source by Football London

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