Getting in the way of Olympique Lyonnais for the quarter-finals of the Europa League,,The English club of West Ham is definitely gaining strength. Premier League sixth, the Hammers are building momentum from last year when they also finished in sixth place. Certainly the London formation is also in some rather interesting dynamics with 3 wins and 2 losses in the last 5 Premier League matches while also taking the better of Seville to reach the quarter-finals. In the continuity of a project initiated at the time by Manuel Pellegrini, but which did not have the expected results, David Moyes found two effective formulas in 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 that continued to develop.
A defense that has some flaws, but an exceptional double pivot
This West Ham formation has two solid goalkeepers with Lukasz Fabianski (36) and Alphonse Aréola (29). The first is a starter in the league, while the French compete in the Cups. It will also be him who will normally be in goal against the Lyonnais. Before him, Kurt Zouma, recruited this summer for €35 million, was soon taken for granted and despite a complicated period for the “cat affair”, he remains efficient. Angelo Ogbonna affected the cruciate ligaments, Issa Diop and Craig Dawson share last place in the hinge and it is the former Watford who won this season at the expense of the French. With Ben Johnson (who took advantage of Vladimir Coufal’s glitches) on the right and an alternation between Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell (who can play in the center in a three-man defense), West Ham shows a solid hierarchy. However, the defensive sector remains perfect for the current eighth defense of the Premier League.
On the other hand, West Ham can count on an impressive midfield, so Mark Noble (17 games, 2 goals) and Alex Kral (6 games, 1 offer) are satisfied with the crumbs. English Phenomenon Declan Rice and the serious Czech Tomáš Souček are the driving force behind the Hammers. Categorized as a very physical team, West Ham cannot find better ambassadors than these two men. Houssem Aouar, who has to resist on Thursday, also expects a fierce battle: “They are used to putting a lot of intensity on the weekends. It is a team that is prepared for major European competitions. We will try to play good football and respond to the intensity. Highly complementary and full of activity, Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček tirelessly offset each other’s projections and always maintain balance within this West Ham team. It also gives the attackers, whether they are three or four, more freedom.
Danger can come from anywhere
Up front, it’s more moving with five players sharing the seats. The frontrunner this season is Jarrod Bowen (25), who seems stronger than ever. With 13 goals and 11 offers in 40 games, the English right winger, like his left counterpart Saïd Benrahma, turns a corner. After a first season of adjustment, the Algerian is increasingly consistent and that is also statistically visible (9 goals and 6 offers in 39 matches). Argentinian Manuel Lanzini (6 goals and 3 offers in 36 matches) and Spaniard Pablo Fornals (6 goals and 4 offers in 43 matches) share the last starting place and contribute to the creation. This is what Nikola Vlašić had to bring. Arriving from CSKA Moscow at €30 million last summer, the Croat has only scored one goal and three offers in 33 appearances and is still unable to find his place. Nothing to worry about in the short term, but he’ll have to bounce back or risk seeing the train go by.
Rather than a substitute, Andriy Yarmolenko has taken advantage of the past few weeks to find some color (3 goals and 3 offers in 26 games). Disturbed by the Russian invasion of his country, the Ukrainian remains no less efficient, justifying his role as a luxury prankster. Offensive weapons that Olympique Lyonnais has to watch out for, just like the physical striker Michail Antonio (10 goals and 10 sacrifices in 37 games). Not the most effective, but the one that is now a Jamaican international is useful in West Ham’s game nonetheless. Combining great technical qualities in midfield and in support of the striker, West Ham also have a physically solid team which is a concern for Houssem Aouar. “It’s a very athletic team, with a lot of intensity, but also a lot of technical accuracy. We will continue to work hard to counter them properly. If they look like us? It is possible. They may be more athletic than us, but it’s up to us to react, as we know in the Europa League., he explained at a press conference. This evening (meeting to follow on our live commentary), Olympique Lyonnais has a real test at London Stadium and will need to pick up speed quickly in the face of West Ham’s physical challenge or risk being crushed by the London hammer.