West Ham United travel to the Cristal Arena to take on KRC Genk knowing that a win will guarantee qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
David Moyes and West Ham United will look to make it four wins on the trot in the UEFA Europa League when they take on Genk at the Cristal Arena on Thursday. The Hammers have enjoyed an excellent start to their European campaign and are currently top of Group H with three wins out of three. They already have one foot in the next round and can guarantee progress should they down Genk.
If the reverse fixture is anything to go by, West Ham could be in for another three points. Goals from Craig Dawson, Issa Diop and Jarrod Bowen condemned Genk to a defeat in London and more of the same will be expected of his side by Moyes.
The Hammers, however, will have to be on their guard. This is because Genk have performed admirably since that night in the English capital, winning all their games. It is not just the results that have picked up but also the performances. If West Ham take their foot off the gas, they could have something else coming.
West Ham too have won all their games since. It includes impressive victories over Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Securing European football was a huge achievement for David Moyes last season. Just how far he can take them in the competition this season remains to be seen. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics could be deployed.
Team News & Tactics
John van den Brom’s side will be without Daniel Munoz as he serves the last game of his suspension. The Dutch manager looks set to deploy a 4-3-3 system that could get the best out of his attacking players.
Genk have played some lovely football in their last few games and it remains to be seen if they will adopt the free-spirited style against the Hammers. Maarten Vandevoordt looks set to start in goal with Jhon Lucumi and Carlos Cuesta ahead of him in central defence. Gerardo Arteaga and Angel Preciado look set to de deployed on the flanks and will be tasked with stopping the Hammers’ wingers.
The midfield three is likely to be Patrik Hrosovsky, Bryan Heynen and Kristian Thorstvedt. The trio will not only have to get the better of a well-drilled West Ham midfield but also one that isn’t afraid to get physical.
The Genk frontline will see Theo Bongonda and Junya Ito start out wide in support of Paul Onuachu upfront. The trio will have to do much better if they are keen to stop a West Ham side in good spirits.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Vandervoordt; Arteaga, Lucumi, Cuesta, Preciado; Hrosovsky, Heynen, Thorstvedt; Bongonda, Ito, Onuachu
West Ham United
Alex Kral is the only concern for the visitors. He will take a last-minute fitness test to determine his recovery from COVID-19. Moyes has an otherwise stellar team to choose from and the visitors will go into the game as favourites. With a healthy lead in the group, Moyes can afford to tinker with his team. The Scot looks set to deploy a 4-2-3-1 system that has brought his side much joy this season.
Alphonse Areola will start in goal behind the centre-back duo of Craig Dawson and Issa Diop. Vladimir Coufal could receive his first start post-injury on the right with Arthur Masuaku on the other flank.
Mark Noble, who was benched at the weekend, could return in an anchoring role alongside Tomas Soucek. This partnership could set the stage for the game, helping the visitors win the battle in the middle of the park.
The better the duo can do their job, the more freedom for the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini and Nikola Vlasic who could all be deployed behind Michail Antonio upfront. This frontline possesses power and pace and could prove to be a major threat to Genk on the night.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Noble, Soucek; Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Vlasic; Antonio
- West Ham United, along with Galatasaray, are the only two teams to not concede a goal yet in the Europa League group stage.
- This will be West Ham’s second-ever trip to Belgium in a Europan competition. They last defeated KAA Gent 1-0 in 1964 in the Cup Winners Cup.
- Genk have lost their last four games at home in European competition. This is their worst losing streak at home in Europe.
- West Ham are looking to win consecutive away games in Europe for the first time since 1999.
- The game will also be David Moyes’ 1000th game as a manager. Of these, 40 of them have come in Europe.
Player to Watch
Michail Antonio continues to go from strength to strength at the London Stadium. Given West Ham’s lack of options at the top, the 31-year-old is a guaranteed starter when fit and that should be the case again on Thursday night. More so, securing qualification to the knockouts quickly will help Moyes rest his players for the upcoming two games.
Antonio’s pace and physicality could prove to be a handful for the Genk defence to handle. Add to it, his ability to bring others into play and the home team could have their hands full.
Genk 0-2 West Ham United
Genk have seen their results pick up of late but continue to show weaknesses at the back. West Ham are stronger, faster and have better quality overall. While the Belgians could be buoyed on by a home crowd, Moyes & co. have it in them to silence the fans. A win or a draw will more or less secure West Ham’s spot in the next round. Moyes will be keen to get the job done and then shift his attention elsewhere.