Can West Ham really make the top 4?
It’s no understatement to say that West Ham is massively over-achieving this season and is fighting for a top 4 finish for the first time ever but can they maintain it?
Compared to last season West Ham have 21 more points than this stage last season and are 14 positions higher and have one of the biggest turnarounds in Premier League history.
The first reason why is recruitment in the summer and January window and how big an impact the signings had.
In the summer David Moyes signed two Czech players, Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, both from Slavia Prague.
Soucek was signed for just over 20 million Euros on a permanent basis after being on loan the previous season. It is fair to see he is one of the most underrated players in the league with 8 goals from centre midfield and consistently playing well.
Coufal was signed for 5 million Euros and is being utilised as a wing-back. Creativity going forward and reliability in defence are just two reasons why he is one of the bargains of the season.
Algerian winger Said Benrahma was signed on loan with an option to buy in the summer and in January that clause was activated for just over 20 million Euros after an impressive six months with the Hammers. Jesse Lingard was signed on loan from Manchester United and after 6 games, has scored 4 goals all from open play and provided 1 assist. Jesse didn’t play any football in the first half of the season but he is on top of his game right now and he has exclaimed many times how happy he is to be playing football with a smile on his face once again.
The last couple of times West Ham were in Europe it didn’t go too well. After finishing fifth in the season before, they were put into Europa League qualifying. In the third qualifying round, they knocked out Slovenian side Domzale 4-2 on aggregate to take their place in the final qualifying round.
As fate would have it they would meet Romanian side Astra Giurgiu who triumphed last time the sides met in Europe beating the Hammer 4-3.
This time around, West Ham had the chance to take revenge. However, once again Astra Giurgiu was victorious winning 2-1 on aggregate and West Ham haven’t played competitive European football since.
The difference in performances and results this season has been remarkable. West Ham is picking up more points against teams outside the traditional top six which proving to be a key driver behind their success.
With 12 matches left West Ham have some favourable games before the end of the season. If the players highlighted can keep up their good form, we could see West Ham in European football for the first time since 2016.