Olympiakos won reverse fixture 2-1
Hammers had won first two UEL games
West Ham v Olympiakos
Thursday 09 November, 20:00
Live on TNT Sports
Hammers have hit a sticky patch
After making a promising beginning to the campaign, West Ham have had something of a wobble, and have suffered a run of four defeats in five games. The weekend's 3-2 defeat at Brentford was particularly clumsy - David Moyes' side led 2-1 and fluffed a massive chance to make it 3-1, only to then allow the Bees to dominate them at set plays as they sparked a comeback.
West Ham's Europa League campaign has followed a similar pattern. Wins at home to Backa Topola and in Freiburg put the East London side on course for top spot, but in Piraeus they found it difficult to contain an Olympiakos side that played with real threat and intensity. The Greek side built a 2-0 lead before resisting a late fightback.
West Ham have now gone seven competitive games without a clean sheet, and in the Premier League they have leaked 20 goals in just 11 matches. That's the worst defensive record outside the bottom four, and it's a worse goals against per game average than last season, a campaign that nearly saw the Hammers relegated.
However, it's certainly not all doom and gloom. West Ham dumped Arsenal out of the League Cup with a storming 3-1 win recently, and in all competitions they have won eight of their last 12 home matches.
Another bright spot is the form of Ghanaian rising star Mohammed Kudus. The former Ajax forward scored a stunning volley at Brentford, and now has ten goals already this season, if you include his first few weeks of the campaign at Ajax.
Moyes must decide whether to bring back Kurt Zouma after his absence at the weekend, not least because of a shaky performance from his deputy Konstantinos Mavropanos. Danny Ings may once again get the nod ahead of Michail Antonio in this competition.
Famous win papered over the cracks
There was a huge amount of kudos gained from ending West Ham's 17-game unbeaten run in Europe, but Olympiakos still have domestic issues to solve.
The Athenians failed to win the Greek Super League last term (bitter rivals AEK took the crown instead), and the weekend's 4-2 home defeat at the hands of PAOK left Olympiakos four points adrift of another old foe - Panathinaikos - in the title race. At one stage, Olympiakos were 4-0 down.
Defending has been a problem in the UEL group stage, with no clean sheets yet and six goals conceded. In all competitions, Diego Martinez's team has managed just three shut-outs across the last ten outings.
In attack, former Wolves player Daniel Podence already has five league goals, while Giorgos Masouras has four, and Moroccan striker Ayoub El Kaabi has rattled in five. All three players have also netted in the UEL group stage this term.
Olympiakos aren't expected to make too many changes to the side that beat West Ham a fortnight ago, and indeed might name the same line-up.
Hammers can claim vital win
For all of West Ham's recent struggles, I think man for man they are a better side than Olympiakos, and their home form in the last few months has been pretty good.
Olympiakos have a back line that can be exposed, just as PAOK did at the weekend. Freiburg scored three gaols against them in Athens, and even unheralded Backa Topola held them to a 2-2 draw.
I'll use the Sportsbook's Bet Builder to back West Ham to win, Over 1.5 Goals and Over 6.5 Corners at 2.26/5. West Ham games in the Premier League average over 11 corners.
Olympiakos have seen their last 16 games feature two goals or more, while an Over 1.5 Goals bet has paid out in 14 of their 16 competitive matches this term.
Mo reasons to back Kudus
Regular readers will know I keep backing Mohamed Kudus to score for West Ham in this competition, and even though he hasn't in the last two UEL games, I can't resist backing him again at 3.412/5. He's in super form, and has found the net in his last two appearances.