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Explained: How West Ham United are primed for a Champions League spot

West Ham are currently in the race to a Champions League spot along with Leicester City, Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham. What has changed for the team this season? What does its coming fixture list look like?

Written by Shashank Nair , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 11, 2021 8:18:24 am
west ham, west ham champions league, champions league table, champions league table points table, david moyes, Indian ExpressWest Ham's Craig Dawson, second left, celebrates after scoring a second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Leeds United at the London Stadium in London, England, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Andy Rain/Pool Photo via AP)

Despite being ridiculed after a failed stint at Manchester United, manager David Moyes, in his second stint with West Ham United, has taken the London team to within touching distance of a Champions League spot with two-thirds of the English Premier League out of the way.

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How close are West Ham to a Champions League spot?

The London club are on 48 points after 27 games and are only two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand as well. They have racked up as many wins as Chelsea and Everton have this season and have one fewer win than 2nd placed Manchester United. They are currently in the race to a Champions League spot along with Leicester City, Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham.

west ham, west ham champions league, champions league table, champions league table points table, david moyes, Indian Express West Ham’s manager David Moyes (Ian Walton, Pool)

What has changed for West Ham this season?

A change that has allowed West Ham to flourish in the league this season are their defensive recruits. Shrewd signings have been the hallmark of West Ham’s success, none more so than the loan signings of their two goal scorers from their last Premier League win, a 2-0 result against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United. Watford centre-back Craig Dawson, on loan at West Ham scored their second goal in the Leeds victory. The first was scored by Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard.

In the summer, Moyes purchased Tomas Soucek. Alongside Declan Rice, West Ham had a steady set of midfielders who were adept at providing cover for their back four. Add Dawson to the mix, and suddenly a refreshed defensive set of players have allowed the Hammers a way to let their attacking players get freedom to go forwards and attempt to score.

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How has Jesse Lingard’s revival helped West Ham’s fortunes?

There is no one who has enjoyed the newfound freedom of West Ham’s attacking players more than Jesse Lingard. An outcast after Bruno Fernandes came into the United team and took over the role as the team’s choice of attacking midfielder, Lingard was sent by United to West Ham to break free of his poor run of form and give him game-time in a Premier League setup.

west ham, west ham champions league, champions league table, champions league table points table, david moyes, Indian Express West Ham’s Jesse Lingard, left, runs with the ball past Leeds United’s Luke Ayling during the EPL match against Leeds United in London, March 8, 2021. (Andy Rain/Pool Photo via AP)

Since the January loan move, Lingard has turned up with four goals in six league appearances — the same number of goals he had scored in his previous 38 appearances for his parent club.

What about Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal?

The current top 4 consists of both the Manchester clubs, Leicester City and Chelsea. Usually, clubs like Tottenham and Arsenal are always in the mix for a Champions League spot. While Tottenham are currently five points off fourth with a game in hand, Arsenal are 12 points from fourth place after having played 27 games.

But the biggest surprise this season has been champions Liverpool and their struggle. Having lost four of their last five Premier League games, Jurgen Klopp’s champions are not only out of the title race effectively, a trip to Europe’s top competition is at the moment looking out of the window as well.

What does West Ham’s coming fixture list look like?

The only thing working against West Ham currently is the run of games that they are about to embark on. Their next four league games are against Manchester United on the road, then Arsenal at home, followed by Wolves at Molineux and then a home game against Leicester. These games will be followed by matches against Newcastle United and Chelsea — a tough prospect to keep up with considering the race to a place in the Champions League.

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