First things first, there is still a long way to go before West Ham fans can realistically dream of Champions League football next season.
For one, due to West Ham’s home match against Leeds being moved to 8pm on Monday night all of Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and Spurs play twice before the Hammers are next in action.
If results go against David Moyes’ side they could drop from their current position of fourth to eighth before kick-off at the London Stadium adding extra pressure to bag three points from Marcelo Bielsa’s team.
West Ham boss Moyes has consistently played down his side’s chances of Champions League football but has admitted that European qualification next season is something he is «really hoping we can get.»
However, as second to only Manchester City in the form table Hammers fans can be forgiven for daring to dream about a top-four spot.
Unfortunately, there is one scenario that could see the fourth-placed team in the Premier League denied entry into the 2021-22 Champions League.
Fourth spot is usually enough to guarantee a Champions League football but as Tottenham fans know very well that is not always the case.
In 2012, Spurs finished in the top-four but due to Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, combined with a sixth-placed Premier League finish, the Blues were allowed to defend their European crown at the expense of their London rivals.
This rule is no longer in place and five teams from one country are permitted to enter the Champions League if a similar scenario to 2012 were to reoccur.
However, if an English side that finishes outside the top-four wins the Europa League they are automatically granted a Champions League spot for the following season.
A nightmare scenario for West Ham would be, for example, to finish fourth and see Liverpool or Chelsea win the Champions League AND either Tottenham or Arsenal lift the Europa League, and neither winner finishes in the top four; then only the top three in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League.
UEFA regulations were updated in 2013 to state that no more than five teams from the same league can compete in Europe’s premier competition.
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If the above scenario were to play out it would be the ultimate cruelty on West Ham after a fabulous season.
For now, Hammers fans will no doubt be hoping all three of their London rivals all exit Europe at the earliest opportunity.
Moyes and his team can do nothing about how the other European contenders do and will be concentrating on one game at a time and controlling the controllables.
Namely winning their own games and from there on what will be will be.