David Moyes is set to welcome Ben Johnson back to his Premier League starting XI following the defenders quicker than expected return from injury.
The Hammers go into the Boxing Day clash with Southampton following a poor run of form with just one win in their past seven matches, including a 2-0 Premier League defeat to Arsenal and a Carabao Cup exit at the hands of rivals Tottenham.
Moyes’ team has struggled in front of goal in recent weeks with just one in their past four matches and the boss is set to make changes in attack as a result.
Michail Antonio missed out against Spurs after a positive Covid test but could be available for today’s clash if he has tested negative twice in the past two days. Should the striker remain in isolation, then Jarrod Bowen will once again lead the line as he did against Tottenham.
At the back Moyes will no doubt return Lukasz Fabianski in goal after a cup rest and will welcome back Vladimir Coufal after suspension.
Johnson returned for the cup clash and with Aaron Cresswell’s back injury keeping him out longer than expected, Johnson could come in at left-back. The return of Johnson will allow Moyes to return to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and could see Arthur Masuaku dropped as a result.
With Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna both injured, Issa Diop and Craig Dawson will once again line up in central defence.
The midfield pairing of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek will continue in the heart of the pitch behind the Hammers attacking quartet.
How that four is formed will very much depend on Antonio’s availability – if the striker is fit to play then he will lead the line with a trio of attacking midfielders behind him.
Manuel Lanzini is the man in possession of the No.10 shirt with Bowen a regular starter on the right. One of Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma could be handed the left-sided spot, with Benrahma impressing off the bench against Spurs.
The Algerian is soon to leave the Hammers camp to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations, so Moyes is likely to get one final match out of him and keep Fornals fresh for the busy period ahead.
If Antonio is not available then Bowen will play through the middle and both Fornals and Benrahma could be set for recalls to the team.
Predicted West Ham XI – Fabianski; Coufal, Diop, Dawson, Johnson; Rice, Soucek; Lanzini, Benrahma, Bowen; Antonio