West Ham’s new goalscoring hero Diafra Sakho is set to miss his side’s trip to Stoke City this weekend, forcing Sam Allardyce to tinker with his team selection.
Jack Sullivan confirmed via Twitter that Sakho will be out between one and four weeks with a shoulder injury, in the next 48 hours the club should find out for sure how long they will be without his services.
It is certain, though, that the Senegal international will miss the trip to the Britannia on Saturday, posing a problem for Allardyce as he looks to keep West Ham’s winning momentum going.
Sakho, who equalled the Premier League record with his sixth goal in six starts in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Manchester City, is going to be a massive loss but the new found strength in depth at the club has ensured they have others who can come in and do a job.
Andy Carroll is still not expected to be fit enough for first-team action, although he isn’t too far away now, meaning that Carlton Cole and Mauro Zarate are the prime candidates to replace Sakho in a like-for-like switch.
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Cole has scored two goals in six league appearances so far this campaign and has been a real handful when played up top with a strike partner. He may not be as quick and versatile as Sakho, but he and Enner Valencia would be able to cause Stoke a lot of problems.
Who to play
Zarate on the other hand would perhaps play just off of Valencia, looking to find and expose spaces while creating opportunities for the forward. The Argentine has one goal and one assist in four appearances thus far, but his lack of physicality may hinder his impact against Stoke much like in the 2-2 draw at Hull where the game passed him by.
Club captain Kevin Nolan could be brought into the side, leaving Valencia up top on his own, but this would mean a change of system and it would be a risky move by Allardyce considering how well they have been playing in a 4-4-2 diamond.
With Cheikhou Kouyate fit to come back into the starting XI, the more creative Morgan Amalfitano could move forward into the striker position. He and Valencia linked up brilliantly for the goal against City and their pace, guile and movement would be a major threat to Mark Hughes’ men.
If it was down to me it would be Cole or Amalfitano playing up top with Valencia on Saturday, leaving the system and the rest of the team as it was – but with Kouyate back in the midfield from the off. Neither will be able to provide the same threat as the scoring machine (Sakho), but they can certainly do a job and assist Valencia, who could become isolated if played as a lone striker.
Who do you think should replace Sakho at Stoke on Saturday? Let us know in the comments box below...