With Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli, Andre Ayew and Aaron Cresswell out injured, and Arthur Masuaku cup tied for the return home tie against FC Astra, we could welcome back talismen Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini into the team.
Payet has been recovering from a sloppy challenge caused by N’Golo Kante in the 2-1 away defeat to Chelsea and Lanzini has been recovering from an injury sustained whilst on duty for his native side before the start of Rio 2016 Olympics.
Both players’ imminent recovery is perfect timing for the Hammers and could give us a slight advantage to secure a Europa League Group place over Astra Giurgiu.
To progress into Friday’s draw, we need to either draw 0-0 or win by a minimum one goal difference. Last Thursday we drew 1-1 and we come home from Romania with a vital away goal. Mark Noble’s second spot kick of the season earned us a draw against a weaker Astra side to what we saw last season.
Although Astra won the Romanian league, they seemed to have been in a bit of financial trouble and have had to sell one of their main stars to the Chinese super league. Astra coach Marius Șumudică draws fiery passion to spur on his players to boost their confidence.
Passion is what has made this team grow, allowing players like ageing ex-West Brom midfielder Filipe Teixeira rediscover his form and recent goal scorer Denis Alibec to be more clinical in front of goal.
We just have to win on Thursday night to put us back in transfer activity to attract players who want to play European football and increase our chances of qualifying for the Champions League. It’s not only the standard of football we want to gain, it’s also to make sure that the Club and the London Stadium gain more exposure across the continent.
Transfers have been a major talking point for West Ham this summer and we’ll finally come to a conclusion after Thursday evening as we will then know what direction we need to go when finding the right player.
If we progress to the group stage, we could see the owners increase the transfer kitty to acquire a class centre forward. If we lose, we could see the owners shutting down any transfer activity for the rest of the season.
The final week of the transfer window is the best time for clubs to buy and sell players for the right price. If Europa League football was on the table for players to play in, that could give us the advantage over other Premier League clubs with new financial boost such as Swansea, Crystal Palace and Everton.
The best players want to play in the best leagues and for teams in Europe, West Ham have one foot in Europe, they just need 90 more minutes to secure a must win game to enhance our season’s hopes of a strong league finish and reach the knockout stages of the Europa League.
I would not rule West Ham out in signing another marque player just yet. Not until our fate has been sealed on Thursday night.
Our fate can only be helped if the fans stop fighting with the stewards and we get behind the team to secure a MUST WIN GAME.
Come on you Irons! One game to go, we are almost there! Special things could still happen!