By Dave Langton
Sunday was a day to forget for the Hammers.
Having seen both Spurs and Arsenal lose on Saturday, it seemed as though there was a real opportunity for the Irons to climb back into the top-four reckoning and put the cat firmly amongst the pigeons.
Instead, it was another lethargic performance off the back of a Europa League game, as the Hammers were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged, resilient Burnley.
The game could well have been lost too, but Maxwel Cornet missed a penalty kick before half-time.
In that context, it could be argued that this point was a well-earned one, but really, it’s a missed opportunity, exactly as David Moyes said afterwards. Nick Pope made a couple of excellent saves – his stop from Issa Diop’s header was world-class – while Mikey Antonio’s finishing was nothing short of woeful.
Now, then, it appears that there’s only really one avenue for the Hammers to qualify for Europe: Win the Europa League.
It’s not easy by any means. Eintracht Frankfurt are a good side, as are both RB Leipzig and Rangers, and there is no guarantee that reaching the semi-finals means that the club will be competing in the final.
But it really seems like the very only chance we have.
The Irons are now seventh, with 52 points from 33 games. We’ve played at least a game more than all of Spurs, Arsenal, and Manchester United. We’re now five points behind Tottenham and the run-in ain’t easy: Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City are all lying in wait.
If it were up to me, I’d be throwing all the eggs in the Europa basket, wrapping the likes of Declan Rice, Antonio, and Aaron Cresswell in cotton wool, and making sure that we have the best possible chance to win the tournament.
Top four is beyond us now. The Europa trophy isn’t.