Excellent form allows David Moyes to prioritise but West Ham are treading dangerously in midfield

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·2-min read
Excellent form allows David Moyes to prioritise but West Ham are treading dangerously in midfield
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That West Ham have licence to consider Wednesday’s Carabao Cup fourth round a fourth priority is just the latest sign of the club’s success under David Moyes.

That the London Stadium is a sell-out for the midweek visit of Manchester City is another, but whether the Hammers can expect another landmark result in a season that, even in October, has the makings of a vintage one is another matter.

West Ham’s ‘reward’ for knocking out Manchester United is a tie against a side who have made this competition their own in recent seasons, winning the last four renewals, often without getting out of third gear.

For their third-round stroll against Wycombe, Pep Guardiola made 10 changes, fielding a defence and holding midfield made up entirely of teenage academy youngsters, but offering them the insurance policy of a front-five of Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez. Not bad.

Moyes has especially been careful in managing Michail Antonio, knowing his absence would have as big an impact as that of any single player at any club in the division, and has been fortunate that injuries have so far concentrated in well-stocked areas, most notably right-back.

But the centre of midfield is a case study in where the Hammers are treading dangerously. Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice have both have played over 1,000 minutes of club football already this season, alongside international exploits, and while signs of fatigue in the former in recent weeks appear to have only spurred on the latter, even Rice will not be immune.

As Moyes’s men excel in the Europe and sets their sights on disrupting the Premier League hierarchy, the feeling is that, more immediately, something may have to give.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

That trip to Old Trafford seemed an equally opportune moment to bow out quietly, the third in a run of fixtures that started with a win away in Zagreb and also included a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of United in the League. Instead, Manuel Lanzini’s goal secured a 1-0 win.

Send another Manchester giant packing on Wednesday night, and West Ham can add Wembley to the ever-growing list of places this potential epic of a campaign has the potential to take them.

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