West Ham kick off their latest European adventure tomorrow as FC Lusitans travel to Upton Park in the Europa League first qualifying round.
The Hammers are expected to field a fairly inexperienced side due to the stature of our opposition, so we tried to predict our starting XI’s for the team tomorrow night using the official squad list.
MORE: In this week’s Roundtable, we asked our writers how far they think West Ham will progress in this season’s Europa League.
I reckon Slaven Bilic will go for a mixture of youth an experience for his maiden game in charge of West Ham. With experience in key areas – goalkeeper, central midfield and in the attacking third, the stage is set for young Elliot Lee to stake his claim for a place in the first team squad with a strong showing tomorrow evening. The same is said for Reece Burke and Reece Oxford. A good performance against FC Lusitans could persuade the hierarchy not to spend on a centre-back this summer and give them more chances in the League.
Key Player: Mauro Zarate – the Argentine needs to get back in favour with the coaching staff and needs an influential performance to further his claim for a first team place come the tough games.
Score Prediction: West Ham 6-0 FC Lusitans. Comfortable.
This would be how I would both expect and want the Hammers to line-up for the FC Lusitans encounter. New manager Slaven Bilic favours a 4-2-3-1 formation, so this is how I see us setting out. Adrian and the back four will enjoy a comfortable evening, so I would hope that youngsters Henry and Burke get an opportunity, with the latter conceding just one goal in three games during the end of last season. I expect Kouyate and Noble to hold, as West Ham look to consolidate this area without Alex Song (for now). Carroll has been training so hopefully he will be fit enough for this one, but the three attacking players behind him should be given an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. Jarvis can perhaps prove his doubters wrong if he puts in a good shift, whilst Zarate will look to impress following loan spells away.
Key Player: Andy Carroll – needs to prove his fitness to regain his spot from Diafra Sakho.
Score Prediction: West Ham 10-0 FC Lusitans. My Sunday league team would put up a stronger fight.
With many central midfielders in our squad, Bilic takes full use of them and places the leadership of Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate in the middle. A mix with the young and hungry, Diego Poyet – no, not Dimitri Payet – gets a start, hoping to prove his worth to the first team. Also, Josh Cullen will get his first chance against FC Lusitans after impressing for the U21’s on countless occasions.
Elliott Lee and Mauro Zarate have a massive chance to prove themselves and get on the scoresheet. Zarate’s first game back at the Boleyn Ground after an unsuccessful first year as a Hammer is huge for him. Proving his ability, even against FC Lusitans, can keep him a place at West Ham. Elliott Lee also has a shot to prove he is ready for first team football.
Aaron Cresswell, right after his new 5-year contract, will get the start at left-back and Joey O’Brien will start at right back. Doneil Henry and Reece Burke will be trusted at centre-back. Henry had a good loan at Blackburn Rovers, and Reece Burke filled in remarkably well for his age at the end of last season.
Score: I think the full-house at the Boleyn Ground are in for a treat. A score of Six-nil is what I expect. Zarate and Lee should notch a few goals, and Cullen should impress with good attacking play.
Key Player: Doneil Henry – must prove that he is ready to be the back up centre-back and that there is no need to buy another. Also, Elliott Lee will be looking to prove he is a goalscorer worthy of first team chances. He sat waiting for an opportunity, and what better time to get on the score sheet than in front of a sell-out crowd?
Score Prediction: West Ham 6-0 FC Lusitans.