Surprise Zouma returns for Euro Conference clash


Fair play to David Moyes having kept it well hidden to then reveal that Kurt Zouma is one of two changes for AZ Alkmaar’s trip to London Stadium tonight (Thurs).

The French centre-back makes our starting XI for the first time since Crystal Palace last month and replaces Angelo Ogbonna, who is not available for the first leg of our UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final.

Alphonse Areola is the other change from the 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday, with Łukasz Fabiański on the substitutes’ bench. In front of the French stopper, Zouma joins an otherwise unchanged back four from Sunday’s win.

Aaron Cresswell, Nayef Aguerd and Thilo Kehrer start, as David Moyes keeps the trust in three of the players to record the Irons’ eighth clean sheet of the Premier League season five days ago.

Ahead of that quartet, appearance number 240 for the Club sees skipper Declan Rice line up in a tried and tested midfield three alongside Tomáš Souček and Paquetá. The Brazil international has scored in three of his last six outings.

Jarrod Bowen keeps his place in an in-form front three alongside Michail Antonio  where he will also be supported by Saïd Benrahma, a player who seeks his eleventh goal in all competitions in 2022/23 tonight.

Three players to start West Ham’s Europa League semi-final home leg against Frankfurt in 2022, Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals and Ben Johnson, are included in the matchday squad as the Hammers seek to go one step further this time around.

A trio of 2022/23 signings, Danny Ings, Emerson and Flynn Downes, are also available to Moyes, while there is also a place for Academy of Football graduates Joseph Anang, Freddie Potts and Divin Mubama, who complete the matchday squad for a second straight European semi-final under the lights.

West Ham United: Areola, Kehrer, Zouma, Aguerd, Cresswell, Rice ©, Souček, Paquetá, Benrahma, Antonio, Bowen
Subs: Fabiański (GK), Anang (GK), Johnson, Fornals, Lanzini, Downes, Emerson, Cornet, Ings, Potts, Mubama

Share this article

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon