WEST HAM TEAM NEWS: Starsport brings you the predicted line-up for West Ham’s Premier League fixture at Cardiff.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are still chasing European football and cannot afford a slip-up in Wales today.
Neil Warnock’s relegation battlers are out of form, having lost their last three top-flight contests.
They have conceded 10 goals in those three matches too, with Cardiff’s defence proving leaky at a crucial time in the season.
With nine games to go, West Ham have the added bonus of starting to get players back from long-term injuries.
Manuel Lanzini was in the starting line-up for the first time this season in last Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to Newcastle.
The Argentinian playmaker, called back up to the national side this week, played the full 90 minutes against the Magpies and impressed.
Lanzini is now expected to start once again and get his fourth appearance of the campaign away at Cardiff.
The Hammers can afford to play with some real attacking impetus at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“Lanzini could start alongside Mark Noble in front of Declan Rice”
As a result, Robert Snodgrass could be the man to miss out as Pellegrini rotates his team with more first-team stars available now.
Lanzini could start alongside Mark Noble in front of Declan Rice in the Hammers’ three-man midfield.
Javier Hernandez’s solid form has kept him in the side ahead of Marko Arnautovic, and that is likely to remain the same too.
On the left, Felipe Anderson will aim to torment Cardiff’s backline and continue his streak of starting every Premier League match for West Ham.
On the right, Michail Antonio may well earn a recall to the starting XI, having been rested on the bench for the Newcastle game despite being on a strong run of form in front of goal.
Snodgrass has also shone, especially with his dangerous set-pieces and corners, but it could be a chance to give the workhorse a rest against lesser opposition.
Lanzini would be part of the midfield three but is happy to carry the ball forward and bridge the gap to West Ham’s forwards, helping add creativity which the team has lacked at times.
Samir Nasri is likely to be on the bench as a result, as is Arnautovic.
In defence, Aaron Cresswell is expected to be fine following his withdrawal as a precaution in the Newcastle win due to a head injury.
At centre-half, Fabian Balbuena is back available following two months out with an ankle problem.
He struck up a strong partnership with Issa Diop in the first half of the season, but Angelo Ogbonna has impressed of late.
As a result, the Italian should for now maintain his place in the team, with Balbuena on the bench.
Ryan Fredericks has been preferred to Pablo Zabaleta in recent games with the pacy full-back in form and he will keep his place too.
West Ham predicted team (4-3-3): Fabianski; Cresswell, Ombona, Diop, Fredericks; Lanzini, Rice, Noble; Anderson, Hernandez, Antonio