Midfield: Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate
There were many disgruntled faces in response to Roy Hodgson’s snub of Mark Noble for England’s Euro 2016 squad last May, such was his influence on a West Ham side determined to make waves in the upper echelons of the Premier League. The captain’s place in the starting line-up can only be described as indispensable, who alongside him has the towering presence of Cheikhou Kouyate to solidify the midfield.
Bilić often tinkers with West Ham’s central options, so there’s a good chance, depending on the task at hand, that the Hammers boss will look towards the involvement of a third midfielder to make things more compact, as Pedro Obiang and new signing Håvard Nordtveit wait in the wings.
Attacking Midfield: Sofiane Feghouli, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet
With good reason, France international Dimitri Payet hogged the limelight at the Boleyn Ground last year. The 29-year-old’s debut season saw him find the back of the net nine times in 30 appearances, an average of 0.32 goals a game.
Of the chief creators in the Premier League, that was only bettered by Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez, meanwhile a total of 12 assists last season, translating to 0.42 per 90 minutes played, and an average of approximately four chances created per game also sees Payet rub shoulders with Mesut Özil in the rankings.
Payet is, without a doubt, the first man on the team sheet and he’ll be joined by another shrewd piece of business on the opposite wing by the name of Sofiane Feghouli. Manuel Lanzini completes the attacking trio after agreeing to make his loan deal permanent from Al-Jazira.
As was the case last season, Lanzini’s position may well be where Bilić opts to morph his midfield pairing into a block of three with the introduction of Obiang or Nordtveit, whereas Gökhan Töre, Antonio and possibly even 16-year-old Domingos Quina give the Croatian manager food for thought in wide areas.