Europa League third round qualifier: West Ham host Astra Giurgiu
New West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic will know whether his side are contenders for the Europa League after the Hammers’ third round first leg qualifier against Romanian outfit Astra Giurgui.
Bilic’s boys are odds-on at 4/7 with Coral to triumph at Upton Park and could field a number of debutants, including Dimitri Payet, Pedro Obiang and Manuel Lanzini. The former, who represents a credible goal threat, is 5/4 in the anytime market.
However, in attack, with Diafra Sakho absent, Enner Valencia is likely to feature prominently, with the Ecuador international 7/2 to open the scoring.
Having limped past Birkirkara FC in the last round, eventually winning 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 aggregate scoreline, a 90th minute goal from James Tomkins saved them last time at home (now suspended), and Bilic will be hoping to settle the tie, prior to the second leg.
For the visitors, attackers Constantin Budescu and Daniel Florea could be their best chance of scoring and the duo are 2/1 and 10/3 respectively anytime.
Right back Carl Jenkinson, who has signed on at West Ham for another season on loan from Arsenal, has been impressed by Bilic’s summer recruitment describing the club’s forward line as “exceptional”.
“We’re shaping up well. You look at the players who have been brought in and they are fantastic,” Jenkinson said. “There is a lot of reason to be optimistic for the season because attacking-wise we are looking exceptional.”
Big things are expected from attacking midfield Manuel Lanzini, 6/5 anytime, and Bilic believes that the Argentine could be their David Silva. “At the age of 20, he was given the No 10 jersey at River Plate who, with Boca Juniors, are a massive club of course,” the Hammers boss said.
“I watched him two years ago and I wanted to take him to Besktias, but it was difficult. Now, the chance has come to get him, he’s going to help us a lot as he will add even more creativity in the crucial parts of the pitch. ”
Coral’s top tip: Valencia first scorer @ 7/2