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Europa Conference League

David Moyes urges West Ham players to be at their best ahead of AZ clash

David Moyes expects his West Ham United players to be at their best on Thursday when they take on AZ Alkmaar in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final tie.

While the Hammers cannot be proud of their dismal Premier League season, they have every reason to be optimistic about winning their first European title in the 21st century.

As the only side to reach the Europa Conference League semi-finals without a single defeat, West Ham enter Thursday’s fixture as odds-on favourites.

However, Moyes knows the Dutchmen are no pushovers as he predicts a ‘tough’ match-up against the competition’s youngest line-up.

“I have a lot of respect for AZ Alkmaar and the way they play and what they have got,” he told the club’s official website.

“I think they are having an amazing season and we have got a really tough opponent. I think any Dutch teams that you play are always good.”

Moyes oversaw a first league win over his former club Manchester United in over a decade last weekend as Said Benrahma’s strike secured a precious 1-0 home victory.

In addition to snapping a three-match losing league streak, the Hammers have reached a point threshold that would have ensured survival in ten of the last 11 seasons, but there’s no room for complacency yet.

The 60-year-old manager recalls Sir Alex Ferguson’s words regarding the business end of the season, highlighting the significance of the remaining matches.

“I remember Sir Alex Ferguson always said that this time of the year was when you had to be at your best,” he added.

“Because games are very important. It could be the semi-finals or finals or league games that you have to win.

“So, I think having your best form at this stage of the season, is a good thing.

“I do think that we are playing some of our best stuff – I think still think we can get much better and I am hoping we can show that in the coming weeks.”

Inspired by the win over Man United, West Ham will be looking to protect a flawless home record in this season’s Europa Conference League.

Moyes’ side have won all six European fixtures at the London Stadium in 2022/23 by an aggregate score of 17-4, qualifying included.

Despite their scoring problems in the Premier League, they’ve been ruthless in the Europa Conference League, netting four goals apiece in their two knockout outings in London this year.

West Ham will undoubtedly take the field in a buoyant mood given their European form.

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