West Ham play their biggest game of their season so far when they take on AZ Alkmaar in a Europa Conference League semi-final this evening.
The Irons brutally lost to Eintracht Frankfurt at the same stage of the Europa League last year and will want to go one step further this time.
The Claret and Blues are yet to lose in the competition this term and emphatically dispatched Gent with a 5-2 aggregate triumph, which included a 4-1 demolition of the Belgian outfit in the second leg.
To maximise their chances of progression, David Moyes must start Said Benrahma, who has proved to be pivotal for the Hammers this campaign.
Why should Said Benrahma start?
The winger isn’t always Moyes’ preferred option, having only started 21 of the East Londoner’s 35 Premier League games.
However, when he is on the pitch, the Algerian is often the driving force of the attacks. He has averaged 1.4 key passes per game, which is the second highest in the squad, as well as 1.4 dribbles, which is the biggest total in the team, as per WhoScored.
The 27-year-old is also one of the chief creative forces in the team – this is showcased by the fact that he has fashioned 59 chances in 45 appearances in all competitions, at a rate of 1.31 chances per 90, the best figure in the side.
The £55k-per-week man has also taken the most shots (67) in the team this term to display that he is constantly involved – an effervescent, lively, and dangerous asset who endlessly hugs the left flank, patiently waiting for his moment to spring into life.
Three-time Premier League winner Joe Cole has described the technician as “unplayable” and recently netted the only goal in a crucial 1-0 victory over Manchester United at the London Stadium.
From a wider perspective, the attacker also rates impressively compared to players outside his division. This is displayed by his rank in the top 12% in Europe’s top five leagues among his positional peers for progressive carries per 90, as well as the highest 19% for successful take-ons, according to FBref.
Moyes must avoid the temptation of any experimentation and stick to his most reliable and dangerous line-up, which definitely involves Benrahma.
His pace, trickery, and dynamism will allow the Hammers to retain ascendency, and he could be the hero in a side looking to win their first European trophy since 1965.