There really is no need for West Ham United to approach their Premier League clash with Arsenal on Saturday with trepidation; Manuel Pellegrini must be bold with his team selection.
That – and his team’s path to victory – starts with gambling on the fitness of striker Javier Hernandez, who should be handed a start on his return from injury.
Reliable Hammers news source Claret & Hugh reported on Wednesday that the Mexican international is back in full training and, provided there are no setbacks, available for selection at the London Stadium.
While it is undoubtedly a risk to throw the 30-year-old straight back in in a game of this magnitude, the rewards far outweighs any potential negative.
Besides, Pellegrini has shown a tendency to gamble on his players’ fitness, notably starting Marko Arnautovic against Burnley at the end of last year before most people expected him back.
While it didn’t quite work out in that game it paid dividends a few days later when the Austrian scored twice to rescue a draw for the Hammers against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Hernandez is, similarly, someone who can decide the fate of a game and, against a defence as porous as the Gunners’, he could make all the difference.
The former Manchester United man only needs a sniff of a chance in the box and more often than not the ball ends up in the back of the net. Against Arsenal he will likely have far more than a sniff.
Unai Emery’s team will attack relentlessly and so West Ham need to be able to hit back. An Arnautovic-Hernandez partnership up front would be able to do just that.
It’s a risk, of course, but if Hernandez makes it through training the rest of this week then there’s no doubt that Pellegrini should roll the dice on the Mexican come Saturday.