George Marchant > It’s fair to say that most West Ham fans would’ve bitten your hand off if you said to them that we had a chance to fight for a European place this season after the defeat to Newcastle on the opening day. Many pundits and opposing fans agree that West Ham have been the surprise package this season after just avoiding relegation last season and having gone through a turbulent summer transfer window.
2021 has shown the Hammers knocking around the Champions League spots with one of our best ever starts to a Premier League season. So, with the team sitting in a pretty position in the table, what are the chances of our team finishing in the prized top seven places this season? West Ham’s current record in the league stands at 21 played, 10 won, 5 drawn and 6 lost. This haul of 35 points currently places us in 5th place. This current position would enter us to the group stages of the Europa league. Unfortunately, there is still some way to go before the final league table is complete. However, we can look at previous season trends which should give us a calculated guess on where we can expect to finish.
In the past ten Premier League seasons, the average number of wins which seventh placed teams have gained is 16 (rounded up). The average number of losses has been 11. With these figures as a guide, West Ham should be within a shout of seventh place by gaining just six more wins from their remaining fixtures but only lose four more times. If the team were able to accomplish this then our final numbers for wins, draws and losses should stand at 16 wins, 11 draws and 11 losses. This record will give us a point tally of 59. In the last 10 seasons, 59 points would have gained seventh place in five of those seasons – and in two of those seasons, we would finish sixth.
However, needing just six wins from 17 remaining fixtures doesn’t sound too out of our reach, so we could be in with a real chance of finishing with more points than mentioned earlier.
Another way of looking at our chances would be to consider previous seasons for West Ham. In particular we can look to the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons to give us a fairly good prediction of our chances. For those of you who remember, the 2014-15 season saw us fourth at Christmas under Sam Allardyce. All was looking rosy for the Hammers, but the new year changed our fortunes as a return of three wins in our last 19 games saw us slide down to 12th. Our end of season form was a frustrating watch which ultimately cost Allardyce his job at the end of the season.
West Ham would’ve only needed to win six more games in that run to have been within a chance of finishing sixth or seventh which was eventually held by Liverpool and Southampton respectively. At this stage of the 2020-21 season, we currently have more wins than the same stage of the 2014-15 season. This should be a confidence booster in our hunt for the top seven. Looking at the 2015-16 season in which the Hammers managed to finish seventh, our end of season record was 16 wins, 14 draws and 8 losses. This special season saw the club as genuine top four contenders until our end of season form saw us needing a Man Utd FA Cup victory to secure a Europe league spot for our 2016-17 season.
Currently we would only need six more wins just like the 2014-15 season to finish in the top seven. Our points tally postseason stood at 62 which was our highest ever tally in a Premier League season. Our current 2020-21 points tally is the same as the 2015-16 season after 21 games. Our end of season form in 2016 saw us win seven of our last 17 games but only lose four more games. Only having four more games to lose seems a bit of a stretch but in the 2020-21 season so far, West Ham have only lost 6 games and only one of those losses has been to a team outside the top 6. So, we have every chance to repeat our 2016 7th place finish and potentially aim a little higher.
This Premier League season has been unpredictable from start to finish which has ultimately made it extremely competitive with more teams than ever fighting for the European spaces. The traditional top 6 label looks to be outdated with the likes of Leicester and Wolves becoming increasingly more competitive in the last few years. Although Wolves have stuttered this season, the current top 10 all have a chance of finishing 7th and above. Therefore, our position could be skewed by plenty of other teams finishing on or around the same 59 points tally.
It looks like David Moyes has set this season finale up to be an exciting one for West Ham fans. Yes, there are more teams than ever fighting for the top seven but if we consider the numbers above, West Ham are in a commanding position to be sent on a European tour for the 2021-22 season.