Lyon star Houssem Aouar has warned his team-mates that West Ham United will be more athletic in tomorrow night’s Europa League quarter-final, first leg, with the Ligue 1 side particularly wary of their hosts’ threat from wide areas.
Aouar, who was linked with a move to Arsenal last summer, believes that the Premier League is the best in the world and West Ham performing at a higher intensity every week could give them a slender advantage in the tie.
Lyon will be without midfielder Maxence Caqueret but hope that Karl Toko Ekambi, their top scorer in this competition with six group stage goals, can be involved after a bout of Covid-19. He did not initially travel to London with the squad but is expected to arrive at their team hotel later this evening (Wednesday).
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Moussa Dembele, the former Celtic striker, is expected to start with Tanguy Ndombele, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, likely to feature in midfield. Former Manchester City defender Jason Denayer is set for a place on the bench having been out of head coach Peter Bosz’s plans.
“What I know is that they are in a good position in the table in the English league with a lot of competition,” Aouar said. “They are very athletic, a lot of intensity but also a lot of technical accuracy from individual players who can make a difference on the wings. We’re going to continue working hard in order to counter them.
“They are more athletic than we are but it’s up to us to respond and raise our intensity because we’re going to need it. We have players who are used to these kind of games. I’ve played quite a few European games. We know we have to be confident but also a lot of humility. We’re facing a very good team. We have to give everything we have.”
Bosz was not as effusive in his praise but said that the team have been studying video footage of West Ham in recent days and is aware that David Moyes’ team are on an excellent run at home, with four wins in a row. “They’ve been having a really good season, good results especially at home,” Bosz said. “They play well together in all areas. They are a good team. We’ve faced good teams already, so we’re used to it.”