West Ham ended a fantastic 2021 on a high with a 4-1 hammering of Watford at Vicarage Road and David Moyes will be hoping to get 2022 off to a similar start when he takes his team to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace.
The manager was in buoyant mood ahead of the trip confirming that as of December 30, other than Pablo Fornals his team were free of COVID and had positive news about Kurt Zouma’s injury progress.
The centre-back went off with a hamstring issue against Chelsea in early December and is continuing his return to fitness at a quicker rate than first expected.
He will not be involved against Palace and neither will fellow centre-back Angelo Ogbonna or Aaron Cresswell so the defence almost picks itself at the moment.
Lukasz Fabianski was in superb form against Watford with a late save to deny Josh King the pick of the bunch and will once again start in goal.
Ahead of him Moyes is not expected to make any changes with Ben Johnson and Vladimir Coufal set to start in the full-back roles flanking Craig Dawson and Issa Diop.
In midfield, Moyes welcomes back Rice after his one match suspension and the England international is bound to come straight back into the team alongside Tomas Soucek. This could see club captain Mark Noble, who was fantastic against the Hornets, drop back to the bench with two matches in four days likely to be too much for the veteran.
Ahead of the midfield pair Moyes is unlikely to make any changes from the quartet that started against Watford. With Fornals missing out again with COVID the only other man pushing for inclusion is Nikola Vlasic after his cameo off the bench and first Hammers goal.
However, Manuel Lanzini, Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio all put in fine performances at Vicarage Road and are set to continue in the team today.
Bowen in particular was in brilliant form and will be hoping to once again push his England chances this evening.
Today will be Benrahma’s last match for West Ham until at least February with the Algerian set to head off to Cameroon to represent his country in the Africa Cup of Nations. The attacker has been in good form of late with two goals in his last two matches and will be aiming to sign off in style.
Predicted West Ham XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Johnson; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Benrahma; Antonio
Source by Football London