The nagging doubt regarding West Ham's superb start to 2015/16

Slaven Bilic

Will West Ham's early Europa League start eventually come back to bite them?

West Ham have had an outstanding start to 2015/16, currently sitting in third position in the Premier League.

They have now beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, and will be hoping to knock off Tottenham and Manchester United over the next few weeks.

Manager Slaven Bilic is clearly working wonders, but there is one nagging doubt surrounding their promising run - will their early Europa League start come back to haunt them?

The Hammers returned to pre-season training as early as June, playing their first match of the season on July 2.

This was due to 'winning' the honour of qualifying for the Europa League through the fair play rankings, and saw the club face fixtures against minnows from across the continent through July.

Their early start has had it's advantages. By time they faced Arsenal on the first game of the Premier League season they were already match sharp and at peak fitness, and it showed with a stunning 2-0 win at The Emirates.

Bilic managed his squad sensibly during the Europa League run, picking fringe players and handing debuts to members of the under-21 squad, keen not to burn out his top stars.

Time will eventually tell if this worked or not, but the club clearly prioritised the competition lowly, as shown by the inexperienced side they sent to Romania to face Astra Giurgiu in early August which saw them eliminated.

Yet their campaign featured first team regulars too, with Adrian, Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble, Dmitri Payet and Mark Noble all starting the home fixture against Astra.

West Ham are a side which started off last season well before trailing off, and the same doubts persist whether they will be able to continue their run deep into February and March.

There will inevitably be a dip at some stage, it's just up to Slaven Bilic to ensure there is no collapse like last season, and freshen the squad up to ensure tiredness is not a major factor.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch