The momentum West Ham had been building by beating an in-form Chelsea side and taking a point from Newcastle may have slowed after the defeat to Burnley, but the signs are positive ahead of their trip to Carrow Road on Saturday. Against the Clarets David Moyes’ side had over two times the number of Burnley’s shots, more on target, along with having more of the ball.
The trip to face the Canaries is a crunch clash given the opposition prop up the Premier League table, and Moyes must make a few tweaks to ensure costly mistakes do not reoccur. Against Newcastle, Pablo Fornals was caught behind Aaron Cresswell to play Dwight Gayle onside for the Toon’s equaliser. Just days later, the left-back swung a tired leg at a Burnley cross which Jay Rodriguez guided into the top corner.
To avoid a repeat of previous mistakes, Moyes must rest Cresswell and bring Arthur Masuaku back into the fold. The Congolese full-back has not featured since the restart but posted some impressive performances earlier in the campaign and has averaged 2.6 tackles per match, only bettered by Declan Rice and Ryan Fredericks.
Another area where the 26-year-old has dominated his rival for the left-back slot is his dribbles, taking the ball around 1.6 opponents per match, while Cresswell records just 0.3 dribbles. Masuaku has proven himself to be adept at using his pace and close control to round opponents frequently when bombing down the left channel.
It’s common knowledge that Norwich’s promising young wing backs, Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis play particularly high up the pitch, and if the Congolese full-back can round his opposite number, there may be space to exploit in behind on Saturday.
Another reason Moyes should rotate his defence is that Cresswell has racked up 450 minutes of Premier League action in under a month since the division’s three-month break. To negate any potential injury risk it might be wise for the Hammers boss to vary his team selection in a game where his side should be favourites, given Norwich are without a point in their last five.
Failing to rest the 30-year-old left-back will only increase the strain on his body and potential risk of injury, while he has also displayed lapses in concentration over the last two fixtures. Masuaku has proven himself to be an adept understudy and could grab his opportunity to add to his ten top-flight starts this term with both hands.