Belgian giants Gent are all set to host Premier League side West Ham United in the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday. The Hammers might be bundled into a relegation battle in England, but are hoping to lift European silverware for the first time ever this season.
Gent, however, will not make it easy for them at all. The Belgian side can take teams off-guard with their unpredictable side and have some promising players that can cause chaos for David Moyes’ side.
West Ham, however, still remains among the favorites to win the Europa Conference League despite their league position. The Hammers are likely to face stiff competition with Gent and an end-to-end, thrilling clash can be expected between these two teams in the first leg.
Last 5 Games
Gent holds the advantage heading into this game, having won four of their last five games in dominant fashion – scoring 19 goals in that period. West Ham, however, have also won three of their last five games and looks to be on an upward trajectory toward the end of the season.
Draw: 1-1 vs Union Saint-Gilloise
Win: 5-0 vs RFC Seraing
Win: 3-0 vs Eupen
Win: 4-1 vs Istanbul Basaksehir
Win: 6-2 vs Zulte Waregem
West Ham United:
Win: 1-0 vs Fulham
Loss: 5-1 vs Newcastle United
Win: 1-0 vs Southampton
Win: 4-0 vs AEK Larnaca
Draw: 1-1 vs Aston Villa
Gent have a few injury issues in their squad heading into this game. Forward Darko Lemjavic is out with a knock, as well as midfielders Sulayman Marreh and Andrew Hjulsagar. Experienced forward Laurent Depoitre is also out with an injury.
West Ham United are unlikely to be able to play striker Gianluca Scamacca, who is out with a knee injury. However, midfielder Lucas Paqueta is expected to be back for this match.
Gent: Roef, Piątkowski, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Torunarigha, Fofana, Castro-Montes, Kums, De Sart, Hong, Cuypers, Orban
West Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Ogbonna, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma, Antonio
These two teams will actually meet each other in competitive games for the first time since 1964. The last time they met was in a UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
West Ham had also defeated Gent earlier in the campaign, picking up a slender 1-0 win.
Where the game will be decided
West Ham’s games in the Europa Conference League this season has been quite entertaining and action-packed encounters. This isn’t expected to be anything less than that. Gent is a hard-working team who loves playing fearless attacking football at home.
So don’t expect them to bow down just because they’re facing a Premier League side. The Belgian giants boast a prolific frontline of Gift Orban (who scored a hattrick in the last Europa Conference League game) and Huo Cuypers. Both are quick, possible of good link-up play, and clinical in the box.
Gent will play proactive attacking football, while West Ham won’t exactly back down either. This should end up being a thrilling end-to-end battle of intense attacking football and a lot of physical aggression can also be expected. So the team that keeps their head will probably prevail.
The Hammers will have to be on their toes to keep the Gent attack quiet, with Declan Rice having to put in a double shift to stop them. David Moyes’ side is blessed with some clinical attackers, and this could be ideal for the physical Michail Antonio to bully the Gent defenders – while the likes of Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen look to create chances. As long as West Ham retains their composure, it should return home with a positive result.
West Ham should be able to just about pip Gent to a win in this one. While the Belgian giants have done a pretty admirable job in the Europa Conference League so far, West Ham boasts more experience and overall quality.
The Hammers should benefit from having difference makers like Antonio, Rice, and Bowen – who are likely to tip the odds in their favor in this clash.
Prediction: Gent 1-2 West Ham United
Gent to win: 49/20
West Ham to win: 11/10
West Ham are the overwhelming favorites to win this game according to the bookmakers with favorable 11/10 odds. That means if one was to bet $1 for them to win, the desired result would fetch them a return of $2.10 – with a $1.10 profit.
On the other hand, Gent’s 49/29 odds mean that if one was to bet $1 for them to win, then they would get a $3.45 return on the result – with a $2.45 profit.
*by BetUS at the time of writing
The game will kick-off at 16:45 GMT and the referee for the game is yet to be announced.