Claudio Ranieri

West Ham vs Fulham: Claudio Ranieri's Best Available Cottagers Lineup

West Ham host the Cottagers at the London Stadium on Friday night in a tie that could define Fulham's season.  
 

Sitting in 19th place in the Premier League nine points from safety, Fulham need to dig deep and find a way to take three points away from home. The squad have only taken two points in away matches this season and will not be able to avoid relegation if they continue this poor run of form.  

After spending in excess of £100m in the summer, there is a lot of star-power trickling through the squad. Claudio Ranieri will have to find a way to bring out the best in his players over the last quarter of the season if they are to have any hope of staying in the top flight.  
 

Here's a look at how they could line up.  

3. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Sergio Rico (GK) - The Spanish goalkeeper has cemented himself as Ranieri's first-choice man between the sticks. Rico has started every game under Fulham's new manager and despite their place in the table, Rico has had a fine season thus-far on loan from Sevilla.  

Tim Ream (CB) - Ream has featured regularly for the Cottagers when they elect to play in a system that requires three centre-backs. The American defender has had his fair share of mistakes since returning from a back injury that kept him out of the first seven matches of the season, but his defensive awareness will be vital in keeping West Ham's attack at bay.  

Maxime Le Marchand (CB) - The French central defender has led the defence in every Premier League fixture since the end of December. He will look to be physical with Marko Arnautovic throughout the match and attempt to force the striker off his game.  

Denis Odoi (CB) - Odoi has started 23 of the last 24 Premier League matches after his early suspension. Arguably the most consistent defender in the side, he will look to connect with the midfield and start attacks from the ride side of the pitch. 

2. Midfielders

Joe Bryan (LM) - Bryan has been used as both a left-midfielder and left-back this season for the club. He's performed better by playing higher up the pitch, and the club has won their last two matches when he was deployed in the midfield.  

Jean Michael Seri (CM) - After joining Fulham in the summer for £30m, the Ivory Coast international has featured in every Premier League match this term. The dynamic midfielder will be the main thread connecting the squad and will attempt to pull the strings to open up a stubborn West Ham defence.  

Calum Chambers (DM) - The on-loan defender from Arsenal has been deployed as a defensive minded midfielder throughout this season. He will look to play in front of the back-four and intercept any interchange coming through the middle of the park.  

Cyrus Christie (RM) - Christie has been used as a right-back and right-midfielder during his time in London with much of his success coming in the midfield role. He will look to get forward when possible, but will mainly focus on his defensive duties. 

1. Forwards

Ryan Babel (RF) - After arriving in January, Babel has been an effective addition to the Fulham squad, providing two assists in the 4-2 win against Brighton on 29 January and will look to open his scoring account against the Hammers.

Andre Schurrle (LF) - The former Premier League winner has featured in 22 matches this season, starting in 21. Despite his inconsistent form the German international has bagged six goals and Fulham will need him to add to his tally to have a shot at three points in this match.  

Aleksandar Mitrovic (CF) - Mitrovic is the star of this Fulham squad and will be expected to start in his normal central-forward position. Mitrovic has contributed ten goals and two assists this season and will have a lot of pressure to perform at a top level if Fulham are to climb out of the relegation zone.