Drawing, drawing West Ham, how Hammers' season could been so different

Upton Park

No-one can deny West Ham United have enjoyed an excellent season no matter what happens in the remaining six games of the campaign.

The sixth-placed Hammers are flying high this season and have impressed fans and pundits alike by mounting a serious challenge for the Champions League places.

Slaven Bilic has reinvigorated the East Londoners and narrowly missed out on a trip to Wembley after being held by a late goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford before losing 2-1 in the replay at Upton Park on Wednesday night.

With stars such as Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, the Hammers are playing the 'West Ham way' again and getting results too.

West Ham's surge has gone somewhat under the radar given Leicester City's fairytale title tilt.

Hammers tough as nails

But their hopes of a Champions League place have faded in recent weeks after a string of draws.

And while it would be no disgrace if the Irons ended up slipping to sixth or seventh come what May it would be a real shame given how progressive and exciting they have been in this most open of Premier League seasons.

The Hammers have been one of the toughest sides to beat in Europe this season and have only lost six games.

From the five top European leagues, only 11 teams have lost fewer games than Bilic's side in Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich (2), Borussia Dortmund, Leicester City (3), Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Napoli, Juventus, Roma (4) and Atletico Madrid (5).

All of those sides have all but guaranteed Champions League football as a result.

West Ham's draw-back

But West Ham's astonishing 13 draws is only matched by Everton in the Premier League, it is bettered by Deportivo (16) in La Liga, matched by Verona in Serie A, no matched by any team in Germany and matched or bettered by a handful in Ligue 1.

So how different could West Ham's season have been if they had got the three points they should or could have from those draws?

The first, a 2-2 draw at home to Norwich City was difficult to argue with as the Hammers twice came from behind to equalise in the dying moments through Cheikhou Kouyate so that would be seen as a point gained.

The 2-2 draw away to Sunderland could well have been three had Nikica Jelavic not missed from close range and the Hammers were playing against 10 so should have taken advantage against a side on course to be relegated, two points dropped.

Draws with Everton and West Bromwich Albion, both 1-1 at home, were probably about right.

The club then drew three games in a row 0-0 against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Stoke City at home and Swansea City away.

Gilt-edged chances

Bilic's side wasted a host of gilt-edged chances against the Red Devils and should have won comfortably while the Stoke and Swansea results were fair so another two points dropped.

The 1-1 draw at Aston Villa was a fair result on the balance of play as was the 2-2 draw at home against Manchester City.

The 2-2 draw away to Norwich could be seen as a great point considering the Hammers came back from 2-0 down. In reality they were so dominant after equalising and Emmanuel Emenike missed an absolute sitter to seal all three points, two points dropped.

A 2-2 draw at Chelsea would normally be seen as a great result for West Ham but the visitors dominated at Stamford Bridge and deserved all three but were robbed of two by poor refereeing decisions. Firstly pushing the Hammers wall 12 yards back allowing Cesc Fabregas to score and then a penalty for a foul outside the box in stoppage time.

The 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace recently was another two points dropped as West Ham saw Kouyate wrongly send off - his red card was later rescinded - with Bilic's side leading 2-1 and pushing for a third.

The Arsenal game could be seen as two points dropped given that the Hammers stormed back from 2-0 down to be leading 3-2.

They also had a perfectly good goal chalked off for offside from Manuel Lanzini when replays showed he was two yards onside while Gunners star Mesut Ozil was actually offside when he scored Arsenal's first.

However, on the balance of play a draw was probably a fair result between two teams playing good football.

Champions League could already be within touching distance

So in total the Hammers could and should have picked up between eight and 10 more points.

And that, in this most open of Premier League seasons, would have put them above Arsenal on at least 60 points in third place.

Doesn't bear thinking about does it?

But with six games to go and just five points behind Manchester City, Champions League football is still achievable if unlikely.

Failing that, it has still been a season to remember for West Ham.

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