After a massive UEL opener in Croatia, West Ham will look to make it two wins in a row for their Europa League group campaign on Thursday, when they welcome Rapid Vienna to the London Stadium.
David Moyes’ side earned a 2-0 away win over Dinamo Zagreb, while Rapid endured a 1-0 defeat to Genk in their opening game of the group stage. An early Michail Antonio goal put the Hammers ahead before Declan Rice doubled the lead during the second half, sealing an impressive opening win against the Croatian giants.
West Ham has continued right where they left off domestically, sitting in seventh place in the EPL with 11 points from six games. Their only loss of the season came at the hands of Manchester United after a chaotic turn of events. A few days later, the Hammers got their revenge, progressing past United in the EFL Cup, and continued their form against Leeds last weekend in impressive fashion.
The Hammers will now attempt to continue their form with another victory in their bid to reach the Europa League knockout stage but face a tough test against a Rapid Vienna side who are still trying to get their first points of the campaign. Rapid is on the other side of the success coin, as they are coming into this match on a lousy stretch of form.
West Ham UEL Matchday 2 Preview vs. Rapid Vienna
Dietmar Kuhbauer‘s side is now desperate to halt that dip in form and hoist their qualification chances. West Ham stands in the way of their circumstances, and Moyes’ side certainly looks poised to make it a tough outing in London on Thursday night.
West Ham United Europa League form:
West Ham United form (all competitions):
D, D, W, L, W, W
Rapid Vienna Europa League form:
W, L, W, W, L
Rapid Vienna form (all competitions):
D, L, L, L, W, L
West Ham Team News
While David Moyes played a solid XI at Dinamo Zagreb, he should start several squad players on Thursday, given their increasingly restless schedule. That means Alphonse Areola should feature between the sticks, while Craig Dawson, Arthur Masuaku, and Manuel Lanzini could start.
Attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic made his first start in the group opener, and he should again feature throughout on Thursday. At the same time, Alex Kral recently arrived on loan from Spartak Moscow and should start over either Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek in the heart of the midfield.
Rapid Vienna Team News
Rapid will reportedly be without several key players for Thursday’s clash, with Christopher Dibon, Richard Strebinger, Oliver Strunz, and Lion Schuster sidelined with injuries. Given they came close to securing a result against Genk, they should field a moderately comparable side, with Taxiarchis Fountas and Ercan Kara set to lead from the front.
Even if West Ham deploys a rotated squad, they still boast more than enough quality to get past Rapid on Thursday night. The trip to Croatia showed their hunger to win in this tournament, and I expect the Irons to post another commanding victory to take charge of the group.