Opinion: West Ham formation change can create a new star for Hammers

West Ham United switched from a back three to a 4-4-1-1 formation in the 2-1 win over Leeds United on Friday night – a result that lifted the London club into the Premier League’s top six.

The change in set-up has surely been driven by the sidelining of key wing-back Arthur Masuaku, with the versatile Hammers wideman seemingly set for a prolonged period on the sidelines.

West Ham’s players took to the new system well and were well worth their win at Elland Road, but the change in shape has the potential to unleash one player and create a new star for the side.

Said Benrahma operated in the number 10 role behind Sebastien Haller, with David Moyes giving the loanee his first Premier League start for the Hammers in the victory over Leeds.

The 25-year-old’s technical ability is clear to see from two devastating seasons with Brentford in the Championship, where the new West Ham man scored 14 goals and contributed an impressive 22 assists over 24 months.

While the likes of Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini will have ambitions of making this number 10 role their own should West Ham persist with the 4-4-1-1 formation, the system change has the potential to turn Benrahma into a star.

Despite almost no top-flight experience, the Algerian’s range of passing, link-up play with the other Hammers forwards and ability to create chances for team-mates was apparent in the 84 minutes he played at Elland Road.

West Ham have had real joy in signing Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen from Championship clubs and the latest tactical decision by Moyes has the potential to make Benrahma an overwhelming success too.

The Hammers host Crystal Palace next weekend at the London Stadium and the challenge will be set to the Algerian to control the game, create opportunities for others and cement his place in the side’s starting XI.