GNK Dinamo Zagreb Match Preview
West Ham United inflicted Chelsea’s first away defeat of the season five days ago and now, the Hammers have European action to focus on tonight with the last match of their UEFA Europa League campaign against GNK Dinamo Zagreb.
The Irons went top of the group after the win in Croatia and by holding onto top spot throughout the campaign, they have now won Group H and will want to make sure they don’t let their guard drop here.
I don’t expect that many West Ham fans would have dreamt that their team would do as well as they have done in their first crack at a major European competition after returning from Croatia with an opening victory back on 16 September.
Since the two sides last met, tonight’s opponents have had a change of manager. After they dispensed with the services of Damir Krznar last week, they have now turned to Željko Kopić but as was proved in West Ham’s last European encounter against SK Rapid Vienna, the “new manager bounce” doesn’t always have an immediate effect and the home side will hope that they can do the same to GNK Dinamo Zagreb’s new Head-Coach as they did to the Austrians when they had a new face in the hotseat.
Pablo Fornals and Saïd Benrahma were dropped to the bench for the weekend’s success over Thomas Tuchel’s side but could be restored to the starting line-up here.
With Ben Johnson and Kurt Zouma out with injuries, it could mean that Aaron Cresswell may be included, provided he has recovered sufficiently from the back injury he sustained at The Etihad Stadium recently. If not, then Vladimír Coufal may retain his place along with Issa Diop.
Arthur Masuaku will want to build on the bizarre winner against the Blues at the weekend and will hope for another chance to impress, while Mark Noble and Alex Král are two other names that are set to start.
Andriy Yarmolenko and Nikola Vlašić could also be involved, while manager David Moyes hinted in his pre-match news conference that youngsters such as Dan Chesters, Harrison Ashby, Ajibola Alese, Sonny Perkins, Jamal Baptiste and Emmanuel Longelo will be in contention.
The match is an 8pm kick-off with live coverage being screened by BT Sport from 7:30pm. The referee is Maurizio Mariani.