West Ham vs Fulham preview: Manuel Lanzini in contention for return

Manuel Lanzini could make his first appearance of the season when West Ham play Fulham on Friday Night Football.

Lanzini is in contention after recovering from a torn ACL that ruled him out of last summer’s World Cup with Argentina.

There was concern that he might miss the entire Premier League season, but Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini expects him to make an impact on his return.

West Ham vs Fulham

February 22, 2019, 7:00pm

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“Seeing Manuel working during the last two weeks for me I am confident that he will return in a very good shape because he is not afraid,” he said.

“He is working as if he has not been operated on for his knees, so I hope he will return a very good performance.”

West Ham are winless in their last five matches in all competitions but appear to be safe from relegation as they have a nine-point gap over the bottom three.

Fulham, meanwhile, are eight points from safety and in desperate need of victory.

“We have to fight, every match is important in the fight for survival,” said manager Claudio Ranieri.

“It is difficult because they have very good players. They are safe and for us it is important to show our strength and I want to see my players make their destiny.”

Team news

Lanzini and Samir Nasri could return to the West Ham squad. Nasri has shaken off a calf injury and has not played since January 19.

Jack Wilshere, Fabian Balbuena, Andriy Yarmolenko, Winston Reid and Carlos Sanchez remain sidelined.

Alfie Mawson is Fulham’s only absentee due to a long-term knee injury.

Loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah is once again available, having previously missed out against parent club Manchester United.

Opta stats

  • West Ham won the reverse fixture against Fulham 2-0 in December and are looking to complete the league double over Fulham for the first time since 2008-09.
  • Fulham are winless in their last nine Premier League away games against West Ham (D4 L5), since winning their first such game back in November 2001 (2-0).
  • This will be Fulham’s first Premier League game played on a Friday since Boxing Day 2008, when they drew 0-0 at Tottenham.
  • West Ham are looking to win three home Premier League London derbies in a single season for the first time since 1999-00, having already beaten Crystal Palace and Arsenal at the London Stadium this term.
  • The home side has never lost in eight previous Premier League London derbies played on a Friday, winning five and drawing three.
  • Fulham have taken just one point from their last 36 available in Premier League London derbies (W0 D1 L11), losing a top-flight record eight in a row.
  • West Ham have won just one of their last seven Premier League games (D3 L3), having won five of their six before that.
  • Fulham have taken just two points from their last 45 available away from home in the Premier League (W0 D2 L13), and are the only Premier League side without an away win this season.
  • Only against Liverpool (3 goals, 3 assists) has West Ham’s Mark Noble been directly involved in more Premier League goals than he has against Fulham (1 goal, 4 assists).
  • West Ham’s Felipe Anderson has failed to score in his last seven Premier League games, having netted seven times in his nine before that.

Merson’s prediction

Fulham are in the must-win saloon but they are letting in goals for fun, and I don’t see anything except a victory for West Ham. It’s hard for Fulham to go somewhere and keep clean sheets and they also aren’t the highest scoring team, so I don’t see them getting anything here.

I can’t see Fulham surviving; defensively, they are not going to keep enough clean sheets. They are behind the eight-ball and the more they have to chase games, the more vulnerable they are going to be. I don’t give them a chance.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

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