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Premier League or Europe? West Ham boss Bilic encounters a familiar dilemma

05 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Premier League or Europe? West Ham boss Bilic encounters a familiar dilemma

The Croatian has been forced to choose between the Hammers' Europa League campaign and the new domestic season

Having to navigate a tricky European away tie just days before the start of the new domestic season is far from ideal.

But that is the issue facing West Ham manager Slaven Bilic.

His side travel to Romania for their Europa League third qualifying round second leg against Astra on Thursday before making the shorter – albeit no less trickier – trip to Arsenal on Sunday.

Had the Hammers been in control of the tie, then Bilic could have left some of his key players at home.

But they’re not. In fact, following last week’s 2-2 draw at Upton Park, the Premier League side will have to score at least once to secure their place in Friday’s play-off draw.

They are more than capable of progressing if at full-strength. Competing in 34-degree heat is hardly perfect preparation for facing a buoyant, possession-obsessed Arsenal three days later, though.

8/5 – West Ham to beat Astra Giurgiu

Playing a weaker side, obviously, reduces their chances of getting the right result.

It is a shame that the schedule of UEFA’s secondary club competition forces such compromises to be considered. European football is something that should be cherished and enjoyed.

So what does Bilic do?

As is so often the case in football, the right answer is likely to be revealed once the benefit of hindsight is available.

If Bilic selects his best eleven on Thursday and they don’t go through, there will be those who say the big guns should have stayed put.

Expect that view to be repeated – even more vehemently – if the domestic season begins in less-than-stellar fashion against their London rivals.

9/2 – West Ham to draw at Arsenal

The only certain way of the former Croatian national boss avoiding any sort of criticism, of course, is if he sees off their Romanian opponents before masterminding a positive result at the Emirates.

No-one said this management lark was going to be easy.

READ: The most important man at West Ham you’ve probably never heard of…

READ: why being a kit man is ‘not just about turning up at 2pm on a Saturday’

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