History reveals that West Ham are all-but assured to qualify for Europe next season.
Sam Allardyce has created a side who are playing creative, attacking football, and - aided by the goals of Diafra Sakho and assists of Stewart Downing - they have recorded memorable results over Liverpool and Manchester City.
Although still being written off by Allardyce and much of his playing squad, who are suggesting the season is still in its infancy, the potential for a top four finish has been widely discussed by the media, and the Hammers look to be closing in on recording their best ever Premier League finish with each passing week. Games with league leaders Chelsea and perennial top-four finishers Arsenal are scheduled for the coming days, and should the Irons continue their good form by claiming a minimum four points, it should become a real aim for the club to be looking at the Champions League next season.
Even if Allardyce refuses to entertain the chances of qualifying for Europe next season, history bodes well on the East London club’s chances, with a top four placing at Christmas all-but guaranteeing European qualification at the end of the campaign.
Since the 2008/09 season - when Liverpool, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Manchester United filled the top four at Christmas - no club residing in the Champions League places on December 25 has failed to qualify for Europe at the close of the season. That year, Villa finished in sixth place, securing Europa League football, while last year saw Everton in the top four and finish in fifth place.
To add increased optimism at the Boleyn Ground, since the 2010/11 season, every club bar one who were in the top four at Christmas qualified for the following year’s Champions League campaign - with Everton last year missing out to Chelsea. This stat is slightly flawed, as Chelsea finished sixth in the 2011/12 season after being fourth at Christmas, but they qualified for the Champions League due to winning that season’s tournament.
Regardless, there is real hope that Champions League football will be gracing East London when next season starts in August 2015.