Not only did West Ham United fall to a crushing 3-0 defeat to Burnley on Saturday, bringing their run without a Premier League win to six games, but they suffered two injuries to key players.
Captain Mark Noble succumbed to an ankle problem, while playmaker Manuel Lanzini picked up a fractured collarbone. Reliable Hammers news source Claret & Hugh reported later on Saturday that he will likely have surgery on Monday.
While Noble’s leadership and steadying presence in the middle of the park will no doubt be missed greatly, the loss of Lanzini may be even more keenly felt given the Irons’ struggles in front of goal and in creating decent opportunities.
Perhaps, though, the Argentine’s misfortune may end up handing a lifeline to Jack Wilshere’s floundering West Ham career. If the England international can get himself fit and stay fit – a big if – then he could be in line to swallow up some of Lanzini’s game time over the next few months.
Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini said at his pre match press conference this week that Wilshere was going to be evaluated to see if he’d be fit for the Clarets clash. Obviously he didn’t make the squad for the game, but the fact that he was in with a chance suggests that he’s close enough to be in line for a return to the team after the international break.
And that’s where he could come up trumps for Pellegrini in Lanzini’s absence. The 27-year-old is capable of providing some of the creativity that the Chilean’s team will lack without Lanzini.
The problem is keeping the Englishman fit. As per Transfermarkt, he has only made 16 appearances for the club despite being a West Ham player for over a season now.
But if he can somehow find a way to maintain his fitness, then he could conceivably take either Lanzini or Noble’s place in the team. Given his propensity for attacking football, though, you’d think that giving him a box-to-box role could bring out the best in the former Arsenal man, and give the Hammers a chance of righting the ship in the process.