Having narrowly missed out on taking West Ham United to a UEFA Champions League berth, via two different routes the past two seasons, manager David Moyes has some rope.
However, this rope is getting shorter and shorter, as the Hammers are now back again to flirting with relegation. This next four matches will be critical towards determining his future. Will the east London club sack him for the second time in the New Year?
Boxing Day Fixtures FYIs
Competition: Premier League regular season
Kickoff: Mon Dec 26, 8pm GMT, The Emirates, London, UK
Starting XI Predictions: Arsenal West Ham
Transatlantic Passage: How the Premier League Redefined Soccer in America: LINK
Let’s see how they hold up over the next quartet of games, starting with league leading Arsenal on Boxing Day. A strong showing here would send a statement. Then they have a pair against fellow London club Brentford (once in the league, and again in the FA Cup).
It would be a good gauge to see where they are in the big picture, versus the Bees
Both strikers, Gianluca Scamacca (ankle) and Michail Antonio (thigh) are touch and go for this one. Winger Maxwel Cornet (calf) will likely miss out. Moyes and company will hope that their fitness issues are minor and short-term.
In the back line, Aaron Cresswell could be a doubt as well, with Kurt Zouma (knee surgery recovery) is expected to be absent.
West Ham United Starting XI Prediction at Arsenal
DEF- Kehrer, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell
MID- Soucek, Rice, Paqueta
ATT- Bowen, Scamacca, Benrahma
Prediction: Arsenal 3, West Ham 1
Given who is in form and who is not in form, this seems like a safe pick.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.