West Ham United arguably face one of the most important games in the club’s history on Thursday evening, as David Moyes’ side take on Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in a pivotal, Europa League semi-final showdown.
The Hammers head into that second leg in Germany trailing their opponents on aggregate, having succumbed to a 2-1 defeat on home soil last week, ensuring they have plenty to do to reach the dangling carrot that is the showpiece.
The east Londoners return to action having suffered another 2-1 loss at the hands of Mikel Arteta’s, top-four chasing Arsenal side on Sunday, albeit with that clash having seen Moyes shuffle his pack in preparation for this upcoming crunch meeting.
One man who was dropped to the bench at the London Stadium at the weekend was Tomas Soucek, although following that well-earned rest, the Czech international should surely be thrust back into the action by his manager.
Although club captain Mark Noble far from discredited himself in midfield on what was a rare league start – the 34-year-old recording an impressive 7.1 match rating according to SofaScore – the Englishman apparently lacks the unique attributes that make his towering teammate such a force of nature in the center of the park.
Dubbed “like the terminator” by pundit Jamie Redknapp for his brutal and committed approach, the 6 foot 4 giant is a commanding presence alongside talisman Declan Rice, with the duo having formed a simply telepathic relationship since the 27-year-old’s arrival back in January 2020.
Initially plucked on a loan deal – before being snapped permanently for £15m – the £47k-per-week brute has been a vital part of the club’s rise in recent seasons, proving his worth in both boxes with his aerial presence and never-say -die attitude.
Should Soucek start tonight?
It’s not from me
Having bagged ten Premier League goals in his first full campaign in English football last term, the £40.5m-rated gem has added a further five top-flight goals this season, while also boasting an outstanding defensive record to boot.
The former Slavia Prague man ranks fifth in the league for aerial duels won (125), while he’s also averaged 1.5 interceptions, 1.9 tackles and 2.7 clearances per game, showing his willingness to do the dirty work in front of the back four.
No slouch at the other end of the pitch, however, he also ranks in the top 9% among players in his position in Europe’s top five leagues for touches in the attacking penalty area, providing himself a real weapon in the final third.
In a game of such great importance, Moyes needs a man who is not afraid to put his body on the line for the cause, but can also offer a real threat in attack when needed, particularly at set-pieces.
The former Everton boss simply must throw Soucek back into the fray; he could well terrify Frankfurt.
IN other news, Forget Rice: Moyes now set for West Ham disaster on “remarkable” £125k-p/w giant