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Analysis: West Ham's tactical plan that saw them outperform City's xG at the Etihad - tactical analysis tactics

Why West Ham United must aim for 8th place in the Premier League

Let’s be realistic for a moment. West Ham will not finish in the Champions League places this season. Yes, they have improved massively under David Moyes this season having avoided relegation to the Championship in the last campaign. But suddenly jumping up to a top-four finish? It’s not going to happen. The current sportwetten-test.org odds on West Ham finishing top-four are 20/1 which, as tempting as they might be, tells you a lot.

I don’t think many West Ham fans would disagree with me there – but then the hidden peril is narrowly missing out on the Champions League and landing plum in the Europa League. You really don’t want that either, Hammers fans.

8th would be perfect for you, and this is why.

Have you seen what happens to ‘smaller’ (sorry) clubs that suddenly find themselves in Europe unexpectedly?

Recruitment gets rushed and bad signings are made in a panic – in fairness, West Ham seemed to have moved on from feeling the need to do that every window, so why invite it back?

Typically, you have to start your new season just weeks after the last one ended and what with this current season being pretty crammed together, you really don’t want to be hitting the early qualification rounds of the Europa League when players could do with a rest. The odds on West Ham actually winning the Europa League next season would be around 36/1, so is it even worth it?

Moyes appears to be on to something this time round at the London Stadium – it would be a shame for him to have to rush it by suddenly needing to inflate a squad with bodies to cope with the extra demands of Europe. Finishing 8th would be incredible progress and still allow him to make sensible additions to the squad – like the boy Sima to make it a Slavia Prague hat-trick – in the summer with a view to pushing on/consolidating next season.

In fact, 8th next season might be a great finish too – again allowing the Moysiah to make slow and steady progress on improving the squad and allowing the likes of Declan Rice to mature further whilst seeing enough of a future at the club to stick around.

Look what happened to Sheffield United this season having flirted with Europe last. Look at how long Wolves’ season went on last time out and how badly they started this season as a result. Do you remember Burnley nearly getting relegated?

There are so many examples of sides desperate to qualify for Europe, missing out narrowly and being in a relegation scrap the next season. There are as many examples of a side qualifying for the dreaded Europa League and also being in a scrap the next campaign.

For once, West Ham should follow the Tony Pulis model. Cunningly avoid it all with a well-paced 8th place finish. Everyone’s a winner then.