West Ham United can feel much more confident going into their UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) quarterfinal second leg against Gent after rallying from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 with Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday. After a 1-1 draw in Belgium, which was a part of West Ham’s current streak of three games without losing (W1, D2), the match is in a precarious position.
The Hammers have dominated in Europe this season, winning all five of their UECL games at the London Stadium while recording clean sheets in the last two. Some 59 years after their first ever UEFA tournament encounter in London, which was ironically against Gent, or St. Gantoise as they were then known, the West Ham faithful will hope for another memorable European night with relegation anxieties lessened.
The Belgians were unable to extend their current unbeaten competitive streak, which dates back to late February (W5, D4), although their first-leg loss in that tie is still their sole European loss to an English side (W1, D3). However, given that the final three of those contests were all 1-1 draws, a repeat of their victory over Qaraba in the play-off for the knockout stage on penalties would be necessary.
They advanced after being held to a home draw in the Round of 16, defeating Başakşehir 5-2 on aggregate, and this is exactly what they’re attempting to do now. In seven efforts (D2, L4), that was their only UECL away victory; as a result, they may look back and regret not grabbing more of the opportunities they passed up in the first leg.
After the break, keep an eye out for Jarrod Bowen, who scored West Ham’s last three goals between the half and the 55th minute. Gent’s Gift Orban might pose a threat at any time after needing just three minutes and 25 seconds to register the fastest recorded hat-trick in UEFA competition history in the previous round.
Kurt Zouma should rejoin the West Ham defense now that Angelo Ogbonna has completed his one match suspension, and Moyes will likely make other adjustments from the first leg.
Ben Johnson might be replaced by Lucas Paqueta in the central midfield, depending on whether Moyes plays with a two or three man midfield.
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola will be back in the nets, but Said Benrahma may possibly get the nod in the final third.
Genk manager Vanhaezebrouck is anticipated to choose a team that is similar to that from the first leg after making multiple changes over the weekend.
Despite the fact that Matisse Samoise scored while playing right wing-back against KV Mechelen, Alessio Castro-Montes is expected to take Matisse Samoise’s place on the other flank on Thursday.
Possible starting lineup for West Ham United
Areola, Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Palmieri, Rice, Downes, Paqueta, Benrahma, Ings, and Bowen.
Possible starting lineup for Gent
Roef, Torunarigha, Okumu, Piatkowski, Castro-Montes, Kums, De Sart, Fofana, Hong, Cuypers and Orban.
We predict that West Ham United will defeat Gent 2-1 to win 3-2 overall
Despite recent criticism, West Ham really has a stronger recent record than is generally acknowledged. We anticipate the Hammers, who are also unbeaten in this competition, to struggle their way to a significant victory on Thursday night.