Premier League

Forget Kouyate: Moyes should lean on 21-year-old lynchpin to keep West Ham fighting

The West Ham fans in the Transfer Tavern were highly critical of their senior players in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup. West Ham were held by the League One minnows despite having players such as Javier Hernandez, Cheikhou Kouyate, Pedro Obiang, Andre Ayew, Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid in their starting line-up.

In fact, the West Ham fans here in the Transfer Tavern told us that they were only impressed by their youngsters, such as Declan Rice and Josh Cullen. Cullen’s performance certainly put Obiang and Kouyate to shame; he was the only midfielder for West Ham who was willing to get the ball down and play.

The Republic of Ireland under-21 international showed some passion, heart and desire to win while Obiang and Kouyate let the game pass them by. And, in honesty, bar a few performances, it has been a similar story for most of the year.

Kouyate was once a dominant man mountain in the heart of West Ham’s midfield with the ability to win the ball, charge forward with seemingly endless energy, win headers and score goals. But this season, the Senegal international looks a shadow of his former self and his lacklustre displays in the middle of the park have been detrimental to the Hammers.

But with Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang as the only alternatives, David Moyes has little choice but to use him. However, Cullen is now back from his loan spell at Bolton and his FA Cup showing – where he lost his front tooth from a high boot – will have caught Moyes’ attention.

West Ham fans were calling for the 21-year-old to be included in the first team from the start of the season. Now he is back, he needs to remain in the team. Moyes should think about dropping Kouyate and playing tidy midfielder Cullen in midfield instead – at least until he signs a new central midfielder.

Thoughts? 

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