Slaven Bilic, manager of West Ham United, looks on prior to the Premier League match against Swansea City.
Slaven Bilic is extremely happy ahead of West Ham United's Premier League clash with Burnley tomorrow (October 14) as for the first time this season, he says, the Croatian can name his strongest XI.
"When, during last summer, we sat down and made our plans for this season, we had in our minds an ideal shape, squad and team for the coming season," Bilic wrote in his Evening Standard column.
"Up to now, because of various reasons, we have never had the opportunity of picking that preferred squad and team. But on Saturday at Burnley, barring last-minute and unforeseen problems, we will have that rare luxury.
"Of our senior squad, everyone should be available, apart from James Collins and Domingos Quina."
Diafra Sakho (2nd R) of West Ham United celebrates scoring the opening goal with his teammates during the Premier League match against Swansea City.
It is been an indifferent campaign for the East Londoners so far, with a poor start having been buoyed by seven points from their last four matches in which results were good, but performances were not.
Bilic is not a master tactician, but has shown he can get the best out of his players if they have a clear plan to follow and that should mean keeping things simple and playing the best players in their best positions.
Defence had been an issue early on in 2017/18 with ten conceded in their first three outings, but three clean-sheets from their last four games suggests things are improving and the back line fielded against Swansea City during their 1-0 victory in the last fixture before the international break looks to be the best solution.
Upfront Javier Hernandez is West Ham's most natural finisher by far and they need to utilise that as much as possible - which means no more playing the Mexican out wide. Hernandez also works best with a strike partner and in Andy Carroll they have the perfect 'big man, little man' combo. It may not be fashionable, but could be highly effective.
To maintain width to get the balls into the box to make the most of Carroll's physicality and heading ability, a 4-4-2 formation therefore makes the most sense. Again, in a culture of wing-backs and interchangeable positions this may seem a bit of a throwback, but as previously highlighted Bilic is not hugely inventive tactically and this suits the players.
Michail Antonio is a bundle of raw pace and energy on the right, while Manuel Lanzini is the most creative influence and can feature on the left or centrally depending on the strength of the opposition, with Marko Arnautovic the other option out wide. In the middle a defensively-minded Cheikhou Kouyate can help break up and distribute play, while if Lanzini is not there Pedro Obiang offers more on the ball than captain Mark Noble.