Seeking to secure their spot in the Europa League knockout rounds, West Ham United travel to TSC Arena in Serbia to face Backa Topola in their penultimate Group A fixture on Thursday.
The Hammers have accumulated nine points from their four Europa League group-stage games. They registered a narrow 1-0 win over Olympiakos at the London Stadium in their last European fixture earlier this month.
David Moyes’ side met Backa Topola for the first time in September when they claimed a 3-1 home success, and the east Londoners will be out there in midweek looking to do the double over the Serbian side.
West Ham Team News
Jarrod Bowen missed West Ham’s 2-1 win over Burnley in the Premier League last weekend with a knee problem. While he is improving, the game against Backa Topola will come too soon for the English winger. Likewise, Michail Antonio will not be competing against the Serbian side due to a knee injury.
Predicted West Ham lineup vs Backa Topola (4-2-3-1)
Lukas Fabianski has been West Ham’s Europa League goalkeeper this season, and the veteran Pole is expected to replace Alphonse Areola between the sticks on Thursday.
In front of Fabianski, West Ham are likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 shape as usual. David Moyes could opt to freshen up his backline by starting Konstantinos Mavropanos over Kurt Zouma. Mavropanos has been a regular for the Hammers in the Europa League and should partner Nayef Aguerd in central defence.
Full-backs Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell will likely accompany the centre-back duo, as the West Ham defence looks to stop Backa Topola from scoring.
Edson Alvarez has been a workhorse in the middle of the park for the Hammers this season. The Mexican international will pair up with James Ward-Prowse in the double pivot, with the duo looking to keep things tight and ticking in front of the back four.
Tomas Soucek has added goals to the side of late, and his late runs in the box, intimidating presence and physicality could make him a real handful for the home side’s defence. The Czech Republic international may get the nod again in the No.10 role.
Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus will retain their spots on the left and right wing respectively from the Burnley game, and West Ham will heavily rely on the duo’s creativity and flair to unlock the Backa Topola backline. With Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen both out injured, Danny Ings will be tasked with the responsibility of spearheading the West Ham defence.
Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals and Divin Mubama could be involved at some point in the second half of the game.
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