While most of the other Premier League clubs are just returning for pre-season training, West Ham have their sights set on an opening night in Europe, as they prepare for the first leg of their Europa League qualifier.
FC Lusitans of Andorra are their opponents in what has turned into a sell-out fixture under the lights in the final season at the Boleyn Ground.
So what do we know of Thursday’s opponents for the Hammers? Here’s the Professor with a few little stats:
DID YOU KNOW?
FC Lusitans finished second in the Andorran Premier League in 2014-15
They are made up mainly of Portuguese immigrants and the badge and kit closely resembles the Portugal national side
Formed in 1999 the club is only 16 years old
They have sold 82 tickets for the away end at Upton Park
In their four European qualifying attempts they hold a combined aggregate record of 4-33
But enough of the stats, here they are in action during their first leg against Maltese side Valletta in 2012…
It’s probably fair to say that any replication of that type of defence will see West Ham justify their 1/100 odds.
And while we don’t expect a whole host of bets at such a short price, there is plenty of value to be had in the Total Goals market.
At evens for there to be over 6.5 goals, there can only be one bet for the action in East London.
Slaven Bilic will not be in charge of his team for the match, with Academy boss Terry Westley taking charge, though there are plenty of senior players set to start.
Westley released the following starting XI in Wednesday’s press release:
Joey O’Brien – James Tomkins – Reece Burke – Lewis Page
Reece Oxford – Diego Poyet
Morgan Amalfitano – Mauro Zarate – Matt Jarvis
A squad of that calibre should have more than enough to see off their Andorran opponents with plenty of goals to delight the packed-out crowd.
Diafra Sakho netted 10 times in the Premier League last season and will see this as an ideal opportunity to get his tally for 2015-16 of the ground.
But while everyone may be expecting an easy victory to nil, one should note that Lusitans scored six or more in three of their 14 league games last season, averaging over three a game, so may well have a go themselves.
With that in mind Ladbrokes’ price boost of West Ham to win with both teams scoring, enhanced from 15/8 to 5/2 shouldn’t be discounted lightly.
In the end though, a comprehensive victory for the hosts is expected, and while a win will do nothing to shorten their 50/1 odds to go all the way, it will certainly stand them in good stead for the season ahead.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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