Aston Villa did West Ham United a huge favour in the race for Europe last night.
Villa beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park to halt the Toffees recent good run and keep them off West Ham’s coattails.
Anwar El Ghazi struck in the 80th minute with the game at 1-1 to boost West Ham’s European hopes and dent Everton’s.
Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham has effectively put them seven points clear of West Ham in the race for the Champions League by virtue of their vastly superior goal difference.
Villa win boosts West Ham’s European hopes
West Ham still have hope of making fourth spot given Chelsea’s fixtures. But the Hammers have to win at least four of their last five games – if not all five.
Minds may soon start to focus on making sure West Ham achieve a deserved Europa League spot at the very least.
That would require a top six finish. Meanwhile coming seventh would result in participation in the new UEFA Conference League – a competition for European minnows from the lesser nations, like the Intertoto Cup.
West Ham’s chances of a top six finish were boosted by Villa’s win over Everton which kept a three-point gap between the Hammers and Toffees.
Champions League still the dream but Hammers must secure deserved Europa League spot if they fall short
West Ham can now stretch that to six points with a win over Burnley on Monday night.
Follow it up with a win over Everton next weekend and West Ham would take some catching by the Blues.
It is looking increasingly like West Ham will need to finish above two of the three teams currently below them – Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton – to make the Europa League.
Moyes’s boys need to secure top six spot for Europa place
Spurs have a tough looking run-in which could work in West Ham’s favour.
West Ham need favours from Manchester United and Sheffield United today to keep them in the Europa League spots ahead of their game at Turf Moor.
For now, though, West Ham should continue to focus on putting pressure on Chelsea and Leicester for the Champions League spots.
The Foxes have some difficult fixtures and a maximum haul from West Ham in the last five games would likely see them leapfrog at least one of them or Chelsea.