West Ham United will look to make it four Premier League wins in a row when they host Leeds United at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
West Ham United will be looking to inflict another defeat on Leeds United when the two sides meet in the Premier League on Sunday, only a week after the Hammers dumped the Whites out of the FA Cup in their third round tie.
West Ham’s top-four push was endangered by a run of only one win in seven Premier League games during December, with the Hammers battling for results and struggling with injuries.
However, David Moyes’s side has enjoyed a decent renaissance, having won each of their last three Premier League games to climb up to fourth place in the table. Moyes will want his side to put pressure on rivals Tottenham and Arsenal in the battle for the fourth spot after making light work of Norwich City to record a 2-0 victory in midweek.
It has been a contrasting story for injury-ravaged Leeds, who have struggled to showcase their best form during the first half of the 2021/22 campaign, with a disappointing record of four wins, seven draws and eight defeats from their 19 matches so far.
Still embroiled in a relegation scrap, they have only won once in their last six games across all competitions. However, Marcelo Bielsa’s side did pick up three vital points in their last top-flight encounter against Burnley, winning 3-1 at Elland Road thanks to goals from Jack Harrison, Stuart Dallas, and Daniel James.
The result provided the Whites with much-needed breathing space and an eight-point cushion over the drop zone heading into the latest gameweek. While they are not in any immediate relegation danger at this stage, Burnley have games in hand while Leeds have tricky upcoming games against West Ham and Newcastle United.
The reverse fixture at Elland Road in September ended in a 2-1 defeat for Leeds. Ahead of the latest meeting between West Ham and Leeds at the London Stadium, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both sides.
Team News & Tactics
West Ham United
📋 TEAM NEWS
“Zouma is on his way back. He’s just started back training and is doing quite well. He’s another player unfortunately who had the virus, but we have to deal with it, move on and do the best we can."
🗣 David Moyes on Kurt Zouma's return to training…
— West Ham United (@WestHam) January 14, 2022
West Ham will again be missing first-choice centre-back duo Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna this weekend due to injuries. But the former is pushing for a return and could feature against Manchester United later this month, although Ogbonna is out for the season. Ryan Fredericks will be the other absentee through injury.
Said Benrahma will be unavailable owing to his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. Tomas Soucek missed Wednesday’s game against Norwich due to a positive COVID-19 test, but Moyes is hoping that the Czech midfielder will be in contention to play against Leeds.
Since the turn of the year, West Ham boss David Moyes has settled for a 4-2-3-1 system, which has worked wonders to rediscover their form. So there are no reasons to change the tactical setup for this clash. Lukasz Fabianski will be a certain starter to operate in between the sticks for the hosts, with Issa Diop forming a customary central defensive partnership with Craig Dawson at the heart of West Ham’s defence.
Vladimir Coufal could start at the right-back spot, whereas Aaron Cresswell will look to put quality crosses into the box for the attackers from left-back. Tomas Soucek will feature alongside Declan Rice in the double pivot as a holding option to screen the back-four, while the latter will provide defensive cover in addition to his progression with the ball.
Manuel Lanzini and Jarrod Bowen are expected to take up the wide positions, playing on the left and right-wing, respectively, with Pablo Fornals slotting in the attacking midfield spot to complete the attacking trio sitting just behind Michail Antonio, who is expected to spearhead the attack for the hosts.
West Ham are certainly very potent in the air, with several tall players in their squad, including Diop and Soucek, who are both dangerous set-piece threats and have shown a knack for headed goals on crucial occasions. With an adept crosser like Cresswell in their side, set-pieces could be an effective weapon in West Ham’s locker for this game.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Lanzini, Fornals, Bowen; Antonio
Leeds will be without the services of Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Joe Gelhardt, Tyler Roberts, Charlie Cresswell, and Jamie Shackleton through injury, while Diego Llorente has a one-match ban due to accumulation of yellow cards.
In a piece of positive news, manager Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed he hopes to welcome back Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo Moreno and Pascal Struijk this weekend which could be a huge boost for the Whites. Junior Firpo needs to be assessed after suffering a head injury in the FA Cup loss to West Ham but is expected to recover in time to play here.
🎙 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗲𝗹𝗼 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗻𝗲𝘄𝘀: "It is probable that Pascal, Rodrigo and Bamford are options to return." pic.twitter.com/mNKutJFNl0
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 14, 2022
Bielsa will set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Sunday, with Illan Meslier lining up in goal. The four-man defensive unit should consist of Luke Ayling, Struijk, Robin Koch and Junior Firpo, who will have difficulty dealing with the pace and strength of Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen.
Adam Forshaw will pull the strings in a deep-lying holding midfield role, while Stuart Dallas will provide further support alongside the veteran in the middle of the park. The Northern Ireland international will also be tasked to initiate attacks by making driving runs forward.
The dynamic duo of Jack Harrison and Raphinha will be assigned to offer width slotting out wide, with the latter being a real game-changer. At the same time, Mateusz Klich will look to create some decent opportunities in the attacking midfield role. Tyler Roberts is suspended for the game, but he is injured regardless, so Bielsa will hope Bamford is fit to lead the line for the Peacocks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Ayling, Struijk, Koch, Firpo; Forshaw, Dallas; Raphinha, Klich, Harrison; Bamford
- Leeds United were defeated 2-0 on their previous visit to West Ham United last campaign. Since 1974, the visitors have not lost consecutive games at this stadium.
- West Ham have won their last 4 matches against Leeds in all competitions and are on a three-game winning streak in the Premier League. It is their longest run against a particular opponent in more than 72 years.
- West Ham United had only one Premier League win in 20 games against Leeds United before their three-match winning streak.
- The Whites have failed to win their first league game on the road in each of the last 12 calendar years (D3 L9).
- Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds have worryingly conceded 15 times in their last four league fixtures across all competitions.
- West Ham boast the fourth-best away record in the division this season but have only won half of their 10 league games at London Stadium.
Player to Watch
More goal involvements in all competitions than any other English Premier League player this season (16) 🤯 pic.twitter.com/0roGivZ1I5
— West Ham United (@WestHam) January 15, 2022
One player who has made the headlines for all the right reasons for West Ham in recent weeks is Jarrod Bowen, and David Moyes believes the striker is pushing for a call-up to England’s senior team. The 25-year-old has been in sensational form recently and scored in the FA Cup win over Leeds before netting both goals in the 2-0 victory over the Canaries over the past week.
The forward, who has been linked with a summer move to Liverpool, improved his tally to eight goals and the same number of assists across all competition so far, marking his rapid rise from the Championship days with Hull City. He will again be vying to make a vital contribution in this game as the Irons look to make a strong claim for a top-four finish.
West Ham United 2-1 Leeds United
This is a crucial game for West Ham in terms of their top-four hopes, and another victory would be essential for the Hammers ahead of their travel to Manchester United. The Irons have only lost two of their last ten home games in all competitions, and they should be able to overcome a struggling Leeds team.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side has been terrible on the road this campaign, with the 2-1 victory at Norwich City their sole away league win in their last nine attempts. Leeds United have also failed to build on their positive results and will have to strive hard to avoid relegation.
One can anticipate Leeds to make things difficult for West Ham, but plagued by injuries and ailments, it seems fair to assume that West Ham will have too much quality. The Hard Tackle predicts the Hammers to emerge victorious with a 2-1 win this Sunday.