Genk v West Ham: Don't be scared of the Smurfs

West Ham have have won all three of their UEL games so far, and Kevin Hatchard reckons they can maintain that winning streak...

Genk v West Ham
Thursday 04 November, 17:45
Live on BT Sport 3

Genk keen to extend purple patch

It's not often that a team scores six goals in a match twice in the space of two games, but that's exactly what Genk have done recently. They beat lower league Sint-Elooise-Winkel (stop giggling at the back) 6-0 in the Belgian Cup, and then stuffed Zulte Waregem 6-2 in the league.

However, no-one should be getting too carried away. Overall, Genk have lost five of their last seven in all competitions, and they are a modest seventh in the Belgian Pro League. The Blau-Wit (they are also known as the Smurfs) have only won six of their 13 top-flight matches, and they have leaked 22 goals already. In the Europa League they made the perfect start with a 1-0 win at Rapid Vienna, but they then suffered 3-0 defeats at home to Dinamo Zagreb and against West Ham in East London.

Genk have no fresh injury concerns, and could name a similar line-up to the one that started at the Olympic Stadium. Paul Onuachu remains their chief goal-getter, with ten league strikes already, while Theo Bongonda and former Chelsea forward Ike Ugbo are also talented.

Hammers fighting on all fronts

There's been a lot of money spent on the West Ham squad in the last few years (£224m across the last three seasons, according to Transfermarkt), and that investment is really starting to bear fruit. The Hammers have a flawless record in the group stage of the Europa League, they just knocked long-time holders Manchester City out of the League Cup, and in the Premier League they are fourth, just five points off top spot.

Of course you need great coaching to make talent truly shine, and David Moyes is doing just that, pushing memories of his time at Manchester United and Real Sociedad further into the past. The Hammers are averaging two goals per game in the league, and are conceding an average of just one, and at the weekend they demolished Aston Villa 4-1.

Although they have won all three games in their section without conceding a goal, West Ham aren't home and hosed yet, as only the winners of the group are guaranteed to make progress to the last 16. That may inform Moyes' selection to a certain degree, and Michail Antonio could well start in attack. Alex Kral is back after COVID-19 isolation, while Mark Noble also hopes to return to the line-up.

Hammers the value at odds-against

I'll keep this fairly simple. West Ham outclassed their opponents a fortnight ago, and I think they'll continue to give this competition the respect it deserves. Given that Genk have only won one of their last four home games, and lost the last two of them by a 3-0 score-line, West Ham seem massive to me at 2.08 in the Match Odds market. It's a price I'll happily snap up.

Given that West Ham have kept three straight clean sheets in the group stage, backing West Ham to win to nil also looks like a sensible play at a chunky 3.85.

Can Bowen hit the bullseye?

One player who has truly caught the eye in a West Ham shirt this term is Jarrod Bowen. He has two goals and two assists in the Premier League, and has been involved in two goals in two appearances in the Europa League.

Keep an eye on the team news, but if Bowen starts, back him to find the net at any time at a chunky 3.0. The former Hull City forward has scored in three of his last six appearances.

On the Genk side of things, Onuachu is trading at 2.3 to score.

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