West Ham failed to start their domestic season on a good note as they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea on Monday in an all-London affair. The Hammers have just three days to prepare for their first leg tie with Astra in the Europa League play-offs. It looked like that West Ham had secured a late point at Chelsea on Monday evening, only to lose out to a late winner from Diego Costa.
West Ham started their Europa League qualification campaign with a shock 2-1 defeat against Domzale but successfully turned around the equation with a 3-0 win in the return leg. Astra are four games into their season and currently have just four points. They prioritised the Champions League qualification (despite going out) and have paid for it, losing their home games 1-2 and 1-4. Astra hadn’t lost at home in the previous year, so they’ll be no pushovers there.
West Ham will definitely give everything in their locker to take an advantage of the away game first. Europa League qualifications looks their biggest priority at this stage and probably that is why we saw influential Dimitri Payet on the bench against Chelsea.
We can expect a strong starting XI named by Slaven Bilic. Here is our predicted West Ham lineup for the game.
Adrian is expected to start under the bar ahead of Darren Randolph. Michail Antonio should be able to retain his place in the right-back position. Winston Reid was partnered by James Collins at the heart of the defence against Chelsea but for this game, we can expect Angelo Ogbonna to take Collins’ place. New signing Arthur Masuaku will keep his place in the left-back position.
Havard Nordtveit will start as the defensive midfielder. The Norwegian’s job will be to protect his back four and spray passes for his teammates from deep. With Nordtveit acting as a defensive screen, Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate will have the license to roam across the pitch and create chances. The duo will provide West Ham legs in midfield as well as creativity.
West Ham have been hit by two major injury blows in the past one week. First, Sofiane Feghouli was ruled out with a hamstring injury and then record signing Andre Ayew limped off with a thigh muscle strain against Chelsea. Diafra Sakho and Manuel Lanzini were already on the treatment table although West Ham have enough depth to cover the injury crisis. Dimitri Payet is expected to start the game on the left flank while Gokhan Tore should start on the right. Andy Carroll will spearhead the East Londoners’ attack.