Mohammed Kudus leads West Ham against Backa Topola
The two teams meet for the first time since the end of September when the Hammers claimed a 3-1 home win in the reverse fixture in East London.
November has been an enjoyable month for West Ham so far, as they have won four of their last five fixtures in all competitions.
Nine group-stage points have been accumulated from a possible 12 available by David Moyes‘s men, who are aware that a victory in Serbia on Thursday will guarantee their place in the Europa League knockout rounds, although top spot cannot be secured until they face in their final group game in two weeks’ time.
West Ham’s impressive goalscoring form on the road bodes well ahead of Thursday’s contest, as they have found the net in all 10 of their away fixtures in all competitions this season, although they have only won five of those and had lost three in succession.
The Hammers, who had to come from behind to beat TSC in the reverse fixture, cannot take the hosts lightly, but they should have enough strength in depth to claim maximum points in Serbia.
The Merseyside meeting will pit first against worst, as the Reds lead the way in the section with nine points, while the Austrian side have just three to their name and sit bottom as a result.
Owing to that humbling 3-2 defeat by Toulouse, the Reds missed the chance to eliminate the other three teams in the group from first-placed contention, and Klopp’s men only have a two-point cushion over Toulouse in second spot, which would force them to enter the knockout round playoffs rather than sail through to the last 16.
However, the hosts simply need to avoid defeat on Thursday to confirm a top-two finish, and a victory – which would be Liverpool’s eighth in a row at Anfield in the second tier of European football – would also ensure a first-placed ranking if Toulouse fail to beat Union SG.
With just the one clean sheet to show from their four Europa League affairs this term, a rejigged Liverpool backline may not emerge unscathed against a LASK Linz side needing to adopt an all-out attack approach to keep their chances of a top-two finish alive.
Such a strategy will inevitably leave space for Klopp’s effervescent attackers to exploit, though, and the Reds should still get the job done comfortably to advance to the knockout rounds.
A win for La Dea on matchday two means they are currently in the ascendancy to top the group, and just a point here will ensure direct passage into the last 16.
Gian Piero Gasperini has already led his Atalanta side into the knockout round, courtesy of their 1-0 win over Sturm Graz on matchday four.
However, with only the group winners qualifying straight into the last 16, there is still plenty riding on this game for the Italian side.
A 2-1 win in Lisbon when the sides met back in October means only a draw is required, as they would then go into the final matchday three points clear with a superior head-to-head record.
A point will be enough for Sporting to qualify and for Atalanta to win the group, so a stalemate is likely for two sides who have little to separate themselves.
While Sporting will still hold slim hopes of leapfrogging Atalanta at the top of the group, losing at home to La Dea on matchday two suggests that it will be a difficult ask to beat them to turn the head-to-head in their favour here.