SK Rapid Vienna Match Preview
West Ham United will want to end what has been a busy September on a high note with another UEFA Europa League success tonight. European football returns to East London as they play the second game of their Group H campaign with the visit of SK Rapid Vienna.
Their first ever match in the group stage ended in an outstanding 2-0 away win against top seeds GNK Dinamo Zagreb.
That victory means the Hammers go into the game at home to the Austrian side top of the group and are hoping to overcome this challenge in order to strengthen their grip on top spot.
Other than the home loss to Manchester United eleven days ago, the Irons are in good form with an away Carabao Cup triumph against the Red Devils, followed up by a a 2-1 top-flight win at Leeds United after having to come from behind.
Whilst the East Londoners were enjoying their night in Croatia, it was a different story for tonight’s visitors, due to the fact that they suffered a last-ditch defeat to Belgian outfit KRC Genk. As this game is the first European encounter to be staged in Stratford since 2017, the home fans will hope that it is a special occasion under the lights.
Issa Diop, Manuel Lanzini, Craig Dawson, Arthur Masuaku, Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko could all be involved as David Moyes looks to give players valuable gametime. Alex Král will be hoping for his home debut, while Nikola Vlašić may be handed a start in place of Michail Antonio with Sunday’s home clash against newly-promoted Brentford in mind.
Declan Rice is again expected to captain the side, while Moyes stated in his pre-match news conference on Wednesday that Vladimír Coufal is a doubt for the fixture.
In the last European encounter two weeks ago, Moyes made the unusual move of naming two goalkeepers on the bench, with Darren Randolph and Alphonse Areola amongst the substitutes in Croatia. It will be interesting to see if the Scotsman does this again.
Łukasz Fabiański may be given a rest in favour of Areola, as the Pole has featured in most of the games so far, while the Frenchman will look to build on an impressive debut at Old Trafford last week.
The match is an 8pm kick-off with live coverage being screened by BT Sport from 7:30pm. The referee is Tobias Stelier.