Saturday 8 December 2018

Return of the Cockney Rejects!

Yes indeed, Stinky Turner and Co. did provide one of the more memorable Top of the Pops moments for Hammers fans, but Today the 'rejects' are none other than James Tomkins and Cheik Kouyate.

The departure of Tomkins for 'just' £10million a few seasons back proved to be poor business for SuperSlav as we suffered from a lack of a defensively sound right back and ultimately towards the end of the season could have done with him at CB! That said, its a measure of the improved strength of our squad that Tonks would struggle to get game time (or even bench warming opportunities) in the current squad.

Similarly, Kouyate's sale fetched nearly £10million and has probably been wise business. His energy was a real asset a few seasons back, but last year he struggled for form and seemed perpetually distracted. His poor first touch was always going to catch up on him as we have moved to a more possession hungry style, so maybe his departure was the best thing all round.

As for our current squad, we are once again looking seriously depleted as Marko seems set to be absent until January with his hamstring injury. We will miss his energy and guile. Lucas Perez did well against Cardiff and will be hoping to push on in Arnautovic's absence but given his performances prior to Cardiff, the jury is out for now.

Kouyate's departure in the Summer almost certainly extended the enigmatic Michail Antonio's career at West ham. He has really struggled for form since his injury last year but finally looks something like the player who was, lest we forget, at times almost unmarkable two years ago! He seems to have recovered that extra yard of pace that is so central to his success as, again, first touch is not his main asset. He is back in the goals and his physicality will be important in Arnie's absence.

Its hard to call how Pelle will set things out today in terms of using Snoddy, Antonio, Perez and the exciting energy that is Grady Diangana. We can expect Chicharito to continue up front and our guess is that Perez will get a rare start alongside him. Snoddy will probably start ahead of Pedro Obiang, while we expect Antonio will move up to right wing to allow the return of Zabaleta at right back while Diangana can be our gamechanger from the bench along with Big Andy if things aren't going our way.

Rory Nostradamus says 3-2 with Palace getting a dodgy penalty from Anthony Taylor but the gallant Hammers proving too much against familiar faces.

Predicted starting XI: Fabianski, Masuaku, Diop, Balbuena, Zabaleta, Noble, Rice, Snodgrass, Antonio, Hernandez, Perez.

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