West Ham may not play again until March 30 when Everton travel to East London, but fans on the KUMB forum have still been discussing a selection dilemma that Manuel Pellegrini faces when we return to action.
That dilemma is who will the boss play at centre-back against the Toffees, as Fabian Balbuena is likely to be considered for his first start since he picked up a knee injury before Christmas.
Should the Paraguayan be recalled to the starting XI, it would be at the expense of either Issa Dip or Angelo Ogbonna, who have more than adequately stepped up to the task once they built a stronger relationship.
Balbuena had developed a superb partnership with his fellow summer arrival before the blow, but a direct swap between the no-longer crocked ace and Ogbonna may not be the most obvious move.
Giving Diop a rest and starting the Italian with the 27-year-old has its merits, as well, as the 22-year-old has not missed a second on the field in any competition since making his debut on matchday three.
That can be countered by the international break, though, and thus the debate rises on the KUMB forum…
“I think the best partnership is Balbuena and one of the other two because Balbuena is a different sort of CB – calmer, sharper, more tactically intelligent in terms of working with his CB partner & midfield. But right now I’d pair him with Ogbonna v Everton simply because Diop has had to be overplayed this season because of injuries: 34 consecutive matches (cup & league) is too intense both physically & psychologically for such a young man, debuting in a new league, a new country.” – Libero (March 18, 17:58)
“Balbuena – I think he’s our most consistent centre back and the closest thing we’ve got to a leader. Diop – I think he has huge potential, the biggest and fastest CB we’ve got and his all-round game/concentration seems to improve next to Balbuena.” – Patito (March 18, 18:03)
“At the moment it would be Balbuena and Ogbonna. Diop looks a bit leggy.” – Estuary (March 18, 18:07)
“Think at the moment its a no brainer that it’s Balbuena and Diop. They had begun to forge a partnership. However we clearly need more changes at the back.” – K-R-C (March 18, 18:20)
“Diop and Balbuena seemed to complement each other well… Diop would do the charging out of defence to close players down and get a foot in, Balbuena would be a little more positionally aware and hold his position.” – Burnley Hammer (March 18, 18:28)
“Diop & Balbuena. There’s every chance Ogbonna won’t be with us next season and Reid may never play again. We need to build for the future so might as well start now.” – HammerAl (March 18, 18:40)
“They aren’t the best defenders in the world, but Diop and Balbuena, compliment each other really well. Their understanding was growing game by game and their partnership was blossoming.” – S-H (March 18. 20:12)
“December was our best period by far in a very long time, and that was The General & Diop. I think they complement each other nicely. It’s the Full Backs that seem to be having a bigger impact on our defence than the Centres. When our FB’s play well, we play well (give or take).” – DasNutNock (March 18, 23:15)