Race For Champions League: What West Ham Have To Do

West Ham in Europe? (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
West Ham in Europe? (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images) /

West Ham currently occupy one of the coveted Champions League places in the Premier League. Considering it is now March, this season has already been a fantastic achievement for the Hammers. The big question is, what do the club have to do to stay there?

Since the 2015-16 season, four different teams have finished in fourth place in the Premier League; Liverpool did it twice. The number of points they finished the season with a range between 76 points at 66 points. The latter number has achieved Champions League football twice in the last five years.

The lower end of 66 points was achieved by Manchester City in 2015/16 and Chelsea last season. Considering West Ham are already on 45 points and should be aiming to at least surpass the 60 point mark. A points milestone the club have only ever achieved once in the Premier League (2015/16).

The average points needed in the last five years has been 71.666666666667; let’s call it 72. This target is a tough one to reach with only 12 games remaining. But West Ham do have a favourable fixture list ahead of them.

West Ham fans have an eye on Champions League qualification this season. The club will have to hold off challenges from Liverpool and Chelsea to do it.

West Ham.
West Ham. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images) /

West Ham have the fifth easiest set of remaining fixtures. The clubs run in includes fixtures against struggling sides like West Brom, Newcastle, Southampton, Burnley and Brighton. However, there are matches against other teams in the bottom half, such as Wolves and Leeds United. The other five fixtures are against top ten teams Arsenal, Everton, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City.

There are a potential 36 left to play for, so for West Ham to reach 72 points would require them to win at least eight of their remaining games and draw the rest. But realistically, the Hammers are unlikely to go unbeaten from now and the end of the season. Nine wins will be enough to reach 72 points without any reliance on draws.

With the assumption that nine wins will hit that target of 72, the fact that the Hammers play seven teams in the bottom half should give them plenty of confidence. The worry will be thinking about the other two wins if West Ham do beat all the bottom half-teams. Arsenal have struggled this season, and Leicester City are slowly going off the boil. They are the two that could be targeted the most.

The Hammers have two main competitors for fourth place, Chelsea and Liverpool. By the same formula, Liverpool have the easiest run of fixtures in the League, whereas Chelsea have the 19th most difficult. Though the Hammers should also keep an eye on Leicester City, who have the third easiest run, they could drop below West Ham if they slip up.

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The main thing for David Moyes’ side to do is avoid defeats. To reach the average target, West Ham can only lose three games. If they lose anymore, the club will have to hope for a season with a lower average points total to qualify for the Champions League.