West Ham United travel to the Europa-Park Stadion to face SC Freiburg in their second Europa League group-stage fixture on Thursday evening, hoping to make it back-to-back wins in the competition.
The Hammers beat Backa Topola 3-1 at home on matchday one of the Europa League last month. They failed to build on that result and lost 3-1 to Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. However, the east Londoners have shown character to bounce back from the Liverpool defeat by dumping Lincoln City out of the Carabao Cup before beating Sheffield United 2-0 in the league.
With the team in good spirits, David Moyes will want to tighten their grip on Group A by beating Freiburg, who overcame Greek giants Olympiakos away 3-2 in their first game.
West Ham Team News
Jarrod Bowen was limping after sustaining a knock and was subsequently substituted in stoppage time at the London Stadium against Sheffield United, so he remains doubtful for West Ham’s trip to Freiburg. Aaron Cresswell, too, is a doubt with a hamstring problem.
Edson Alvarez has served the suspension that kept him out of the fixture against Backa Topola and will be available for selection on Thursday.
David Moyes will ring changes within the squad ahead of the Premier League game against Newcastle United on Sunday.
Second-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski will feature between the sticks, with West Ham lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him.
The defensive unit should include Thilo Kehrer, Kurt Zouma, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Emerson Palmieri. Zouma will marshal his troops from the back, with Mavropanos replacing Nayef Aguerd to partner the Frenchman at centre-half in the West Ham lineup.
Kehrer and Emerson will have the freedom to push forward and provide attacking impetus, but the full-backs must not compromise on their defensive duties against a strong Freiburg side.
James Ward-Prowse has quickly become a part of the West Ham furniture under Moyes and is likely to keep his place in midfield. With Edson Alvarez available again after serving his suspension and likely to start, Ward-Prowse will look to push forward and try influencing West Ham’s play in the final third.
Mohammed Kudus’ movement, creativity and guile from the No.10 position will be key in unlocking the Freiburg rearguard. Meanwhile, Tomas Soucek, who scored in the Hammers’ 2-0 win against Sheffield United last weekend, should drop to the bench.
Lucas Paqueta and Pablo Fornals should function as dual wide playmakers in the West Ham lineup, hoping to provide striker Danny Ings with goalscoring opportunities on the night. The attacking trio will need to be at their best against a strong Freiburg side.
If Jarrod Bowen recovers from his knock, he could be available from the bench along with Michail Antonio and Said Benrahma.
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