West Ham head to West Yorkshire to face Huddersfield on Saturday with an air of positivity following a good run of results through the festive period, which has seen the club pull itself clear of the relegation zone. Sunday’s draw against Shrewsbury was forgettable, many players looked exhausted after the busy Christmas schedule and while Shrewsbury created very little, West Ham were lucky to come away from Shropshire still in the competition. One of the few plus points from Sunday was the performances of Rice, Burke and Cullen who looked at home in the first team in difficult circumstances. Cullen looks a very composed player and when Moyes moved him more centrally in the second half he began to dictate the game and West Ham started to look more comfortable. Rice has been outstanding the last two games, his positioning has been exemplary and his calmness on the ball marks him out as a real star for the future. Angelo Ogbonna had a very good festive period and seems to be thriving in his role as the senior partner with Rice. The third youngster was Reece Burke who again didn’t look out of place despite being played out of position. I am far more excited by getting the youngsters involved than some of the players we are linked with at the moment in the transfer window. I would far rather us give a chance to Cullen than sign a Shelvey or Allen, it has been a long time since a youth teamer has established themselves in the first team and I would like to see these three along with Reece Oxford given a chance.
Huddersfield away is a tough game, they have only lost at home to teams within the top six and famously beat Manchester United earlier in the season. They have some very good players in Aaron Mooy and centre-half Christopher Schindler. West Ham will have to be at their best to beat the Terriers in Yorkshire. Huddersfield play a very high-intensity pressing game and are full of running, winger Tom Ince is a key player for the Terriers, he is very direct and pacy and although he didn’t play well in the return in September, he offers a real threat.
West Ham should have Arnautovic back but will be without Antonio, Cresswell will come in on the left side of the 3 and Rice should retain his place in the team at the expense of Reid who came off against Shrewsbury. If Noble isn’t fit then I would start Cullen, his ball retention and bravery shone on Sunday and at 21 he is ready for games. Although Huddersfield isn’t an easy proposition it’s well within West Ham’s reach to win there. A solid performance and three points would put some more distance between us and the drop zone.