Southampton will be looking to bounce back after their Boxing Day draw with Fulham by picking up all three points when they face West Ham at St Mary’s on Tuesday.
A win will see the Saints keep pressure on the top four after what has been an excellent start to the season for the South Coast club, although they will be without usual goal threat Danny Ings for the game against David Moyes’ side.
Therefore, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side will be reliant on other players to break the deadlock against the Hammers, and right-midfielder Stuart Armstrong could be the man to expose a weakness in the West Ham side.
Moyes’s side will be without usual left-back Arthur Masuaku, as he is still recovering from the knee injury that has kept him out for much of December.
The DR Congo international has been one of the Hammers’ best performers in the top-flight so far this season, averaging a strong 6.87 rating, so he will be a big miss for the London club.
With Aaron Cresswell having been deployed at centre-back for much of the season, Moyes is without any sort of senior back-up to Masuaku at left-back, with 20-year-old Ben Johnson featuring as a left wing-back in their 2-2 draw against Brighton recently.
Whilst he scored in that game, the fact he is a natural right-back suggests that he could be someone that Hasenhuttl should target, as he is inexperienced and playing out of position.
Therefore, if he plays there again on Tuesday, Armstrong could well be the man to take advantage, as if he can get into one-on-one situations with the youngster and get the better of him, it’s likely to create chances for the Southampton forwards.
“To play at the highest level, you want to be effective. You want a midfielder who has a high level of technique, has mobility to run and be physical — and Stuart has all of that.
“He has big, big qualities that can really set him up in the game. He’s improving all the time.”
Therefore, if Johnson features as a left-back again on Tuesday, then it would not be a surprise to see Armstrong have a real impact on the game against the Hammers.
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The post Stuart Armstrong can be the key to unlocking West Ham’s defence on Tuesday first appeared on FootballFanCast.com.