West Ham v Dinamo Zagreb
Thursday 9 December, 20:00
Live on BT Sport ESPN
There are fewer props opportunities available in the Europa League but cards and shots markets are both on offer for West Ham’s final group game and there could be some value in them.
With injuries beginning to bite his senior squad, boss David Moyes has promised some youngsters will be involved here – his side have already nailed down top spot.
Defensive starts look most likely for it is at the back where most of their injuries are at present.
Kurt Zouma and Ben Johnson both limped off at the weekend, joining long-term victim Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell on the sidelines. With defensive options thin on the ground ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Burnley, Moyes has already confirmed Craig Dawson will sit this game out, while it seems unlikely Vladimir Coufal, only just back from injury himself, will be risked.
Step forward Harrison Ashby and Aji Alese – at least there appears a strong chance they will.
Right-back Ashby loves a tackle and that’s reflected in his disciplinary stats for the Hammers’ under-23 team this season – six yellow cards and a red in 18 appearances.
He’s likely to be up against Dinamo’s star man, Croatia international Mislav Orsic, here and if he’s sliding into challenges then he could easily come to Italian referee Maurizio Mariani’s attention.
Mariani is averaging five cards per game in Serie A this season, while he’s shown at least four cards in six of his last 10 UEFA club appointments.
All things considered, Ashby looks big at 4/1 for a card.
Moving on to Alese, the tall centre-back, touted in some quarters as a long-term replacement for Ogbonna, looks a big price at 4/1 for a shot on target.
The 6ft 4in defender has proved a good set-piece threat in Premier League 2, scoring twice from such situations, while he also likes to drive forward with the ball, a la Toni Rudiger, and one such run was rewarded with a superb solo goal against Swansea U23s recently.
I’ll split stakes across the two bets.
While we can’t be sure either will start at this point, both bets can be cashed out (stake returned) between the team announcements and kick-off.