He stuck with the system for the relegation battle with Norwich City but decided to bring Mark Noble back into the starting eleven for the first time in three matches. The switch was a rousing success, and the captain had one of his best performances for the Irons this season in an attacking midfield role.
The next time Noble slips on a claret and blue jersey and makes his way onto the turf will be his 500th appearance in all competitions for West Ham, making him part of a select group of club legends. However, Hammers icon Frank McAvennie has urged Moyes to reconsider Noble’s selection in the starting line-up for the crunch clash against Watford.
What did he say?
Speaking to Football Insider, McAvennie said: “When Mark Noble has been left out it has given Declan Rice a new lease of life. Mark Noble has been a great servant, but I think his playtime should be limited now. I prefer [Manuel] Lanzini because he looks forward a lot.”
“Just before Noble got left out of the team, he was taking two or three touches too many in that midfield. It was better against Norwich, but they are woeful, so I would not take too much out of that,” added the former West Ham striker.
McAvennie stated: “Watford have a lively midfield. Declan sits in and does Noble’s job in breaking up the play, and Noble is no playmaker. He is a very important part of the team, but I would use him sparingly.”
Tough to take
Given the Hammers’ precarious position in the Premier League table, level on 34 points with Watford and just three above the drop zone, Moyes has no room for sympathy when selecting his eleven. In a dream scenario, the West Ham captain would probably love to lead the Irons out down the tunnel on what would be his 500th appearance for his boyhood club, rather than being given the armband off of the bench.
Noble was scintillating when deployed further forwards against Norwich City, playing eight key passes, but as McAvennie suggested, the Canaries have been woeful this season, especially since the restart, losing all of their matches. Though the Hornets match may be a landmark fixture for the captain, he will know more than anyone that the result is the most critical aspect of the encounter and he may have to sacrifice himself for the good of the club.