West Ham United v SC Freiburg: match preview

We would just like to make things perfectly clear. The photograph that accompanies Preview Percy’s utterances every week has NOT been altered in any way.

It’s the one he sent us. Though now we look at it closely we’re not sure we actually believe that it’s the one on his passport. Here’s his look at Thursday’s visit of Freiburg...

Next up we return to European action for the second leg of our Thursday Night League last-16 tie against Freiburg. Kick-off is at the ludicrous hour of 5:45pm. Mustn’t upset the TV companies after all.

Get there as soon as you can if you haven’t got an early pass from work. No away goals of course if you’re still not used to that rule no longer existing. Extra-time and, if required, kicks from the penalty mark may be used to decide the tie. So maybe that early kick-off may be handy for once.

So Freiburg then. There’s not a lot I can add to last week’s preview really.

Since we last met they picked up a 2-1 win on the road at Bochum, a score which masked the fact that they were decidedly under the cosh for the second-half and, for the second time in a week, they required the services of a referee willing to give a dubious decision their way to guarantee the win, Matthias Ginter bringing down Moritz Broschinski by virtue of the now apparently legal method of grabbing his opponent round the neck.

The win left Freiburg in eighth place – some seven points behind Eintracht Frankfurt who occupy the last European place in the Bundesliga so they will need all the help they can get should they want European action next season. Clearly they are getting it at present.

On the injury front, the aforementioned Ginter, who has himself only just returned from injury, was withdrawn from action with an unspecified knock – presumably friction burns to his hands from Broschinski’s neck – but he is expected to be fit for Thursday.

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There are no further injury issues from last week as far as Daisy could tell. However, the word coming out of Germany suggests that, despite making a difference in the first leg, and starting against Bochum, Michael Gregoritsch is likely to return to the bench with Lucas Höler likely to get the nod once more.

Given the bijou and compact size of this mini-preview, I will eschew the usual look at the wild and wacky world of association football on this occasion and move straight on to us. Well, if ever there were a game of two halves it was Sunday’s. Lord alone knows why we didn’t think to, well, you know, attack until the second half.

Unfortunately, Kalvin Phillips is looking increasingly like the solution to a problem we don’t actually have at the moment and it’s no coincidence that things improved once Edson Alvarez came on to replace him.

Things may have been different for Phillips had we signed him when we originally wanted him. That, married to a full pre-season might have seen the player reach the standards of which he was once capable. However, coming into an established squad halfway through a season is difficult enough even when you have been playing regularly. And Phillips obviously hasn’t.

James Ward-Prowse had an ineffective half and his replacement by Antonio was a positive move – he did cause problems but it was Danny Ings’ introduction with eight minutes left that finally got us level. The law of the ex and all that I suppose.

He was very unfortunate not to have had a hat-trick, the Stockley Park microscope spotting that a portion of Michail Antonio’s DNA was found in a skin cell that had strayed offside to deny Ings’s first effort. His second effort was a fine finish and only the crossbar prevented him from netting the winner. He’s performed well against the bottom two but now needs to do it against teams of a higher calibre.

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On the injury front Maxwel Cornet is regretting walking under a ladder as his hamstring continues to heal. Meanwhile Emerson is still struggling with his groin. Mr Moyes was cagey during his press conference but he is rated no better than 50/50. Aaron Cresswell will continue at left back if required.

So to the prediction then. Well there are a number of factors to consider here. From the visitors’ point of view, it’s a question of stick or twist. Do they go all out for the second that would set the cat amongst the pigeons or do they try and sit on what they have?

From our own perspective there are a few tactical points to consider. They are likely to stick three men on Lucas Paqueta every time he gets the ball again. One of the reasons that was so effective was that neither Paqueta nor the rest of the side dealt with the problem.

Paqueta just went off and sulked whilst it seemed not to occur to the rest of the side that if they had three on Paqueta they were likely to be short-handed elsewhere. Hopefully, someone on the coaching staff will have twigged that and have been looking at a way of exploiting their narrow-mindedness on the matter.

We need to start this match much as we did the Brentford match, and NOT as we did Burnley. If we can do that we ought to take the tie. They are not a great side and their win last week was as much a product of our trying to keep things level for the second leg as it was from their efforts.

This is a one-off match so there’s no "tie-management" to consider. So on that basis I am going to place the £2.50 that I was going to send to the EFL to cover the Premier League payment shortfall on a home win. Please, if you will Mr Winstone, stick it on a wager for us to win 3-1.

Enjoy the game!

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When we last met at the Olympic: Won 2-0 (Premier League April 2022)

Considering that they still had a chance of topping the group and that they were assured of a knock-out place whatever happened it was a strange 90 minutes for the visitors, who seemed singularly disinterested in giving it a go. Paqueta had already hit the bar before Kudus found a space in the box bigger than the one between Jamie Carragher’s ears to put us one up. Bowen had the ball in the net but was offside before Alvarez got on the end of a clever through ball to double the lead. File under comfortable.

Danger Man: Michael Gregorsitch

Possibly unlikely to start but they never really looked like scoring until he came on last week.

Referee: Marco Guida (ITA)

A new one on me. Last seen on these shores takin charge of Man Utd’s 1-0 win over Copenhagen in the group stages. Doesn’t seem to issue a lot of reds but can be quite free with the yellows.

Percy & Daisy’s European Fact Of The Week Type Thing

The official flag of the City Of Freiburg is none other than the Cross of St George. Fancy that!

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