It’s a week until West Ham United face Manchester City in the Premier League, but manager Manuel Pellegrini might have dropped a huge hint over his team selection.
After much tinkering with his XI’s during the first four games of the league campaign, the Chilean tactician finally found the winning formula against Everton in September.
A 4-1-4-1 system with big money summer signing Felipe Anderson operating from the left, Marko Arnautovic leading the line up front and the defensive pairing of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop.
Pellegrini has had to make one major change to what is perceived to be his strongest team in recent weeks following an injury to Andriy Yarmolenko sustained in the 1-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur last month.
Youngster Grady Diagana and Robert Snodgrass have shared the duties on the right-wing, but there are some first-team players who have been on the fringes so far this season.
Lucas Perez and Angelo Ogbonna certainly fall into that category, while Andy Carroll hasn’t featured at all this season following ankle surgery in the summer but the trio played in a behind-closed-doors win over Brentford on Thursday afternoon.
Despite getting some much needed game time under their belts, Pellegrini has all but confirmed they won’t be taking to the field against the Citizens a week on Saturday.
“It’s a good match for the boys and particularly for the players who are maybe not playing in every game,” Pellegrini told the club’s official website. “It was a very useful game because we played well, we played with intensity and so it was all OK.
“For Andy Carroll, for Lucas Perez, for Angelo Ogbonna, they all put in good performances.
“At this moment we don’t have space for them in the [Premier League] starting XI, but they worked very hard today.”
Since arriving from Arsenal in the summer Lucas is yet to start a Premier League game for the Hammers, while Ogbonna’s last league start came in the 2-1 loss at home to Bournemouth in the second week of the campaign.
Although, with the festive period fast approaching both will fancy their chances of more starts as Pellegrini will have to rotate his squad.