West Ham United and Astra Giurgiu have it all to play when the two sides collide against each other in the second leg of the Europa League playoff. The Hammers almost sealed an impressive away win at Romania last week thanks to a Mark Noble penalty but a late goal from Denis Alibec cancelled out things.
West Ham will be keen to make their home advantage count as the host the Romanian giants at the Olympic Stadium in London. As Slaven Bilic said earlier that the Hammers do not deserve Europa League football if they fail to beat Astra at home on Thursday, truth is they won’t get a place in Europe if they cannot.
West Ham have been hit with an early injury crisis with plenty of key players already on the treatment table but they still have enough quality to see off the Romanian side at home where the pitch is more ideal. Here is the predicted West Ham lineup against Astra Giurgiu.
Darren Randolph, West Ham’s cup keeper will start between the sticks ahead of Spaniard Adrian. Sam Byram is likely to keep his place in the right-back position as Michail Antonio is likely to ply his trade in his natural position i.e. on the flanks. Winston Reid is likely to be partnered by Angelo Ogbonna at the heart of West Ham defence. Summer signings from Olympiacos, Arthur Masuaku will start in the left-back position.
Norwegian international Havard Nordtveit is likely to start in his favoured defensive midfield role and his key job will be to protect the back four and build the foundation of the attack with his passing. With Nordtveit protecting the back four, skipper Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate will have the license to burst forward. Manuel Lanzini is likely to be announced fit enough to make the bench and will be called into action if needed.
Michail Antonio is likely to start on the left flank as Andre Ayew is injured and Dimitri Payet is also coming back from a minor knock. We can expect Payet to be introduced later in the game, though. Loanee from Besiktas, Gokhan Tore will start on the right flank. Andy Carroll will miss the game with an injury he suffered in the first leg which means Enner Valencia will spearhead the attack of the Hammers.