West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini must make seven changes to his starting XI as the Irons prepare to return to Premier League action against Norwich City.
Having defeated Newport County in the League Cup, the Chilean boss needs to bring his best talents back into the line up if he wants to clip the Canaries’ wings at the London Stadium.
Daniel Farke’s side have already earned plenty of plaudits for their attacking brand of football, Teemu Pukki scoring the goals while his supporting cast continues to provide plenty of scoring opportunities.
Shutting down space and time for Norwich’s midfield and attack is going to be crucial to stopping them, which is why Pellegrini must swap to a three-man midfield with Mark Noble, Declan Rice taking the place of Carlos Sanchez and Pablo Fornals.
With Jack Wilshere also in the side, the trio offer the perfect balance of dynamism, creativity and experience to counteract Norwich’s energy and enthusiasm and shut down attacking opportunities for the away side.
The defence should see Ryan Fredericks and Lukasz Fabianski return at right-back and in goal, with £75,000-a-week [Spotrac] defender Pablo Zabaleta and Roberto very much back up options to the first-team now.
Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena did well against Newport, keeping a clean sheet in the process, and they possess the right attributes to keep Norwich at bay.
At the other end of the pitch, Sebastien Haller showed his class with two goals against Watford and Albian Ajeti did nothing against the League Two outfit to suggest he would be posing a threat to the Frenchman’s place any time soon.
With Michail Antonio out injured and Robert Snodgrass struggling to deliver his best form in midweek, Felipe Anderson, who came off the bench at Newport, and Manuel Lanzini should line up on either flank.
Their ability to swap wings, cut inside and generally cause defenders a real problem should create space and opportunities for Haller to get into and score from, while also giving Wilshere the chance to step into a number 10 role when needed.
Shutting down Norwich’s time on the ball should allow the Hammers to expose the defensive frailties seen so often this season – a little tactical tweak to flood the midfield and some quality players at both ends of the pitch should sink the newly-promoted side.