West Ham have blossomed in the Europa League so far, and Kevin Hatchard doesn't think that will change against Genk.
"West Ham have won 2-0 against Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Vienna, while Genk are in their worst form of the season."
West Ham v Genk
Thursday 21 October, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Hammers getting happier week by week
It was hard not to conclude from West Ham's 1-0 win at Everton on Sunday that under David Moyes, the East London giants have become an excellent side. Angelo Ogbonna's deft near-post header was the difference against a depleted Toffees team, but there is a genuine balance and fluidity about the Hammers that's hard to ignore.
Lukasz Fabianski is a competent and experienced goalkeeper, and he has a decent defence in front of him, although I do wonder if the back four is perhaps the weakest of a strong set of links. The midfield pairing of the ever-improving Declan Rice and the industrious Tomas Soucek is one of the best in the Premier League. There is flair and invention in the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma, while talismanic striker Michail Antonio has become the team's heartbeat.
West Ham haven't been in Europe for quite some time, but they have adapted excellently to life in the Europa League. 2-0 wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Wien have respected the perfect start, and another win here under the lights at the London Stadium would take Moyes' men to within touching distance of the knockout phase. Remember, only the group winners are guaranteed to make progress to the last 16.
Vladimir Coufal missed the Everton win with injury and could still be sidelined, while Moyes is keen to wrap up qualification as soon as possible, so Antonio is expected to start again. Alex Kral is out after contracting COVID-19.
Ailing Genk in a tailspin
It all started so well for Belgian side Genk, as they won 1-0 at Rapid Vienna on Matchday One, and made a decent start to the league season. However, the campaign has unravelled somewhat, and John van den Brom's side have lost four of their last five games in all competitions.
Three of those losses have been by two goals or more, including the 3-0 UEL home loss to Dinamo Zagreb. On the road, Genk have lost three on the spin, conceding nine goals in the process. They haven't won a game for nearly a month. Set-piece defending has been a big problem, and they are missing plenty of chances in attack.
Colombian right-back Daniel Munoz is suspended after a red card against Dinamo, although there are no fresh injury worries.
Hammers to cruise to victory
We successfully backed the Hammers to win by two goals or more against Rapid Vienna, and they duly obliged with a 2-0, and that's the route I'm taking again. Genk are losing regularly, and are often beating beaten by at least two goals.
I'll happily back West Ham -1.5 on the Asian Handicap. That bet has landed in both of West Ham's UEL games so far.
Don't doubt Tomas
Tomas Soucek carries a goal threat at set plays, and loves to drive forward from midfield. He scored in the win at Newcastle, and he is a threat at set plays in the air, an area where Genk struggle in defence. Soucek netted ten PL goals last season, and was a regular scorer in Europe for Slavia Prague.
You can back the Czech Republic star to score at 2.9215/8, but check the team news to see if he starts.
KEVIN HATCHARD EUROPA LEAGUE 2021-22 P/L
Points Staked: 12
Points Returned: 11.13
P/L: -0.87 points
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