After a mediocre start to the campaign, West Ham United have made decent progress in the last couple of months, managing to put in a few strong performances, as they helped themselves to the top half of the table. They are currently in 10th place, 16 points off European qualification and they will have to play out of their skins to have a shot at it. The manager lost one of his most influential players in recent times in Dimitri Payet to Marseille, but he has enough firepower in his team to go the distance.
What is West Ham’s strongest XI and who does it involve?
There are a number of players fighting for a place in the squad and one player who is expected to start regularly for West Ham until the end of the season is Robert Snodgrass. An impact player who moved to London just last month is an experienced player in the Premier League and is expected to take the place of Payet in the first team. So here is the strongest line-up for Slaven Bilic, including the former Hull City star:
Goalkeeping and Defence:
The Croatian manager has experimented with a 3-man defense on more than one occasion this season but he has the personnel to succeed in a traditional 4-2-3-1 system. With Adrian not being the first choice for Bilic anymore, Darren Randolph should be the undisputed number 1 for West Ham for the rest of the season.
On the wings, Aaron Cresswell has done extremely well at left-back and should keep his place while Sam Byram, though still learning the trade, should be the first choice on the other wing. When playing in a 3-4-3 system, Michail Antonio can act as a wingback with Cresswell holding his place.
Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins will all be fighting for one place at the back with Jose Fonte expected to start regularly in the heart of the defence. Reid is the most experienced player and should complete the backline for West Ham.
Though Mark Noble has not been at his best, he is the trusted midfielder for Bilic and should be a regular starter while Chiekhou Kouyate has also cemented his place in the side. This duo should start constantly for West Ham from now to the end of the season. Pedro Obiang is another option for West Ham if Bilic wants to go with 3 in the midfield.
This is where the manager has plenty of options to turn to. Michail Antonio, the most productive player in the side, can start on the right wing in 4-2-3-1 system with Manuel Lanzini, and Roberto Snodgrass playing just behind the striker. Andy Carroll has been exceptional this season and should keep his place in the side as the target man.
Andre Ayew, Simone Zaza, and Diafra Sakho are all options for the manager while Antonio can also deputize in the striker role leaving a place in the midfield for another player. Lanzini and Snodgrass should start regularly while Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordveit are also capable of walking into the first team if needed.
West Ham have a really strong squad and if Bilic can make them play well consistently, they can get closer to a place in Europe in a matter of few weeks.