Dinamo Zagreb v West Ham United: Group H - UEFA Europa League
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History shows West Ham already have one foot in Europa League last 16 after perfect start

One look at the history books shows West Ham United look on course to make the last 16 of the Europa League.

West Ham secured Europa League group stage football for the first time after their record-breaking Premier League season last term.

And David Moyes’s side have taken to it like a duck to water with two wins from two, four goals scored and none conceded so far.

West Ham’s start to the competition has been so good they have been installed as favourites to win it.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

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Some pundits and fans have looked down on the Europa League as a hindrance to a club’s Premier League hopes.

And West Ham are already subject to those claims after late 2-1 home defeats to Man United and Brentford followed both European games so far.

The long format with 48 teams in the group stages has in the past made for a gruelling campaign.

Especially when some – like West Ham in previous seasons – have had to start the season early to take part in qualifying.

West Ham Europa League draw

But the new and improved Europa League has seen the group stage significantly reduced from 48 to 32 teams.

And from the eight groups, the winners directly advance to the last 16 knockout stage. Group stage runners-up face off in a play-off against the third-placed teams dropping out of the Champions League.

A successful campaign in the Europa carries the ultimate incentive, qualification for the following season’s Champions League.

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And there is good news from the history books for West Ham when it comes to making the last 16.

West Ham top Group H with six points from six so far.

And they are halfway there in terms of making the last 16 based on previous seasons.

That’s because any team with 12 or more points almost always tops the group.

Last season Roma, Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Rangers, PSV, Milan, Villarreal, Tottenham, Zagreb and Hoffenheim all won their groups with 12 points or more. Leicester won their group but were a rare one off that needed 13 points to finish top while Napoli needed just 11 points to top theirs.

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The season before the average number of points needed to top the Europa groups was even lower, 11. Again in every single group, teams were guaranteed top spot with 12 points or more.

It was the same in 2018/19 and pretty much every season before that.

That means West Ham are just two wins away from effectively sealing top spot and a place in the last 16.

The way Europa League fixtures work, the Hammers now play their final group H opponents Genk twice.

On paper the Belgian side are the weakest West Ham face in their group.

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And David Moyes’s side will play them at home first later this month before a short trip to Belgium.

If those games go true to form West Ham will pick up two wins. And that all but guarantees the Hammers will make the last 16 as group winners with two games to spare.

The Hammers will have to keep a close eye on one of Moyes’s reported summer targets, though, the 6ft 7in striker Paul Onuachu.

West Ham’s window of opportunity

Even if Group H does turn out to be one of the rare tight groups, West Ham would need just a point from their last two games to nail down a place in the last 16 knockouts.

Moyes’s side would then have a nice three-month break from European matches before resuming in March.

And from there just three two-legged ties away from making the Europa League final.

With the possibility to add a much needed striker to his squad in January, West Ham would surely feel confident of seriously challenging to win the competition.

Exciting times ahead.

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