Football London journalist Sam Inkersole believes West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini may switch winger Felipe Anderson to a number 10 role against Newcastle United.
The Brazil international has started out on the left of a 4-2-3-1 formation as a matter of course since his transfer from Lazio last summer, but Inkersole feels a change may be afoot.
“We have moved Felipe Anderson into a number ten role but don’t be surprised to see him chop and change with [Robert] Snodgrass as [Andriy] Yarmolenko occupies the other flank,” he wrote on the Football London website.
“If Anderson does play the ten exclusively then it is imperative he supports Sebastien Haller, who has looked dreadfully isolated up front on his own in recent weeks. There is clamour among the fanbase for the Hammers manager to go two up top but with seemingly still having doubts over Albian Ajeti, it’s unlikely.”
This is an interesting theory from Inkersole. There’s no doubt that Anderson has underperformed this season relative to what he did in his debut campaign, and so it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world for Pellegrini to move him infield, where playmaker Manuel Lanzini has been underwhelming as well. It’s clear that Haller has been extremely isolated up front in recent weeks, as Inkersole says, and so the manager does need to do something to fix that issue. One solution would be to switch to two up front and bring Ajeti into the starting line up. The Frenchman excelled alongside Luka Jovic at Eintracht Frankfurt last time out, so that might be the key for the east London outfit. However, the other option is to move one of the midfielders closer to Haller on the pitch. Anderson would be the likeliest candidate to do that, while it might see his own performances improve as well.