A 0-0 draw at the London Stadium would see West Ham through to the Europa League group stage, but with Astra Giurgiu priced up at a whopping 29/4 with bwin, it could be wise for punters to explore Slaven Bilic’s priorities.
This time last year, Bilic sent out a scratch side to Romania in the same tie a stage earlier in the competition, with only four from the XI that day going on to play significant roles in the season ahead.
After crashing out with a 2-1 loss, the Irons travelled to Arsenal fresh three days later and grabbed a 2-0 Premier League opening-day victory, going on to challenge near the top during the early part of the campaign largely thanks to further away wins at Liverpool and Manchester City.
Unencumbered by Europa League football, Bilic targeted a Champions League spot, an astute move at the start of a season that saw a rookie entrant and a second-timer qualify.
He didn’t quite manage it, but after spending the best part of £40m already this summer with maybe more to come, priorities seem unlikely to have changed.
West Ham’s injury woes add to the problem in a competition that plots a more perilous path to Champions League qualification than the Croatian is willing to countenance.
He could be forced into quirky attacking selections up front against Astra, with record signing Andre Ayew not back until December and Andy Carroll out for another month, while Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini nurse knocks.
After two summers at the helm, Bilic will struggle to get away with sending out the kids again, but a mish-mash of new signings, promising youngsters and backups could be on the cards.
It certainly doesn’t make sense to back West Ham at 3/10 considering these factors, and 29/4 about Astra looks too big.