est Ham are out to produce another famous European comeback tonight when they face Eintracht Frankfurt for a place in the Europa League Final, with winger Jarrod Bowen warning: “Don’t write us off just yet!”
The German side lead 2-1 at the midway point of the tie, following their victory at the London Stadium last week, and West Ham face a stern task to overturn the deficit away from home against a side who knocked out Barcelona in the previous round.
Reaching the showpiece in Seville would cap a remarkable transformation for West Ham, who were battling relegation when David Moyes returned for a second spell in charge only two-and-a-half years ago.
Bowen, signed from Championship side Hull just weeks after Moyes took charge again, has been central to that resurgence, scoring 16 goals and registering 11 assists this season, and says the adversity the Hammers have faced proves they cannot be discounted.
“We were tipped for relegation, then off the back of finishing in the Europa League places we’ve been doing unreal again this season,” said Bowen.
“To be here, where we are — we had a tough group and then knocked out Sevilla, who have won the competition more times than anyone. Then Lyon as well, we went there and scored three goals and won comfortably. We have probably been written off and we just keep responding with good performances and good results, and that’s what we can do.”
West Ham were beaten 1-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Sevilla and had to battle just to salvage a draw at home against Lyon after having Aaron Cresswell sent off before half-time.
However, two of their best performances of the season came with their backs against the wall in the second legs of those ties and Declan Rice is certain that a similar set of circumstances in what is expected to be a cauldron-like atmosphere at the Deutsche Bank Park will inspire yet another memorable display.
“I don’t know [why we have played well in the second legs], but I always feel like in the first games you’re always looking at the opposition and sizing them up,” Rice told the club website. “I feel like you’ll see the best of us in the second game, one hundred per cent. We’ll be ready. We want to go to Seville. We’re 90 minutes from a European final, so we’ll give it everything.”
Moyes has no fresh injury concerns going into the crucial second leg, with Ben Johnson set to be available after missing last Sunday’s Premier League defeat by Arsenal with a thigh strain.
Local police have promised a major presence around tonight’s match, with “officers on every corner” after fears of clashes between the two sets of fans were realised in the build-up to the game.
A 34-year-old British man was taken to hospital with minor injuries following an attack on West Ham fans at a pub during the early hours of Wednesday morning by what witnesses called a group of Frankfurt ultras.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, two West Ham fans were set upon by six men identified as Frankfurt fans, who were later arrested.