A Season In Review: West Ham

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Check out the last edition here, featuring Tottenham Hotspur!

Transfer Windows

West Ham said goodbye to an incredible player this season. He has been labelled Mr West Ham for his service to the club, and he will be sorely missed by all those involved with the club. Mark Noble felt it was time he retired.

Darren Randolph, Ryan Fredericks and Yarmolenko all left the club as free agents, whilst Masuaku left the club on loan.

Ryan Dawson made the switch across Premier League clubs to Wolves, and Issa Diop did the same, but joined Fulham instead, both on permanent deals.

With West Ham having to contend with European fixtures this season, they had to add to their squad. They added experienced goalkeeper Areola and Thilo Kehrer from PSG, as Aguerd joined from Rennes and Paqueta for Lyon.

Moving away from France, Scamacca joined from Sassuolo and the rest of West Ham’s signings came from the English leagues. Danny Ings joined from Aston Villa, and Emerson made the switch across London, as he transferred from Chelsea.

Flynn Downes joined from Championship side Swansea, and Maxwell Cornet did the same but moved from Burnley instead.

Overall, it was a good window for West Ham. They cleared some of the dead wood and improved in areas they felt needed to improve. They vastly strengthened their defence and added some exciting young players to their ranks as well.

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key Games

It was a season of struggle for West Ham in the Premier League, as they were dangerously close to dropping into the Championship, which would have been an absolute catastrophe for the London-based club.

The key game that stands out for me is one that came extremely late in the season. With just a few games, and points, left to play for, West Ham found themselves 4 points off the bottom 3 and had lost their last 3 league games.

They faced a tough test, in the form of Manchester United, who were still holding onto 4th place, with the teams below them in blistering form. Both sides were desperate for 3 points, and it was certainly going to be an entertaining game.

The game was a close one. Man United dominated the ball, but West Ham were matching them for shots. The deadlock broke around the 27th minute, as Benrahma found the back of the next, giving West Ham a slender lead.

There were no twists or turns in this one, as West Ham were, unusually, resilient defensively in a Premier League game. They were worth the 3 points, and it virtually guaranteed them safety.

They pulled 5 points clear of the bottom 3, with 3 games and 9 points left to play. Whilst it did not literally guarantee their safety, it meant that their survival was in their own hands.

They saved a brilliant performance for a key game and a key point in their season. In my opinion, it kept them up.

Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

West Ham started their Carabao Cup journey with a home game against Championship side Blackburn Rovers. They fielded an extremely strong side in the hopes of kicking off a good cup run.

That decision did not pay dividends to start with, however, as Jack Vale opened the scoring for the visitors after just 6 minutes. West Ham did fight back just before halftime, as Pablo Fornals equalises for The Hammers.

West Ham left it late to take the lead, as 12 minutes from time, Michail Antonio gave the hosts the lead, and a very good chance of going through to the fourth round.

There was late drama, however, as Ben Brereton equalised with just 2 minutes to go, forcing the game to penalties just as West Ham thought they were going through.

Both sides did well from the penalty spot, as a clean run from both sides meant that the scores were level after 9 penalties each. Jake Garrett scored Blackburn’s 10th penalty of the shootout, meaning that Ogbonna had to score for The Hammers.

He missed, sending West Ham crashing out of the competition at the first time of asking and giving Blackburn Rovers a surprise win that they were maybe not expecting.

FA Cup

West Ham kicked off their FA Cup journey with a difficult fixture, as they had to travel to play Brentford. It was a dreadful game for two Premier League sides, as both managed just one shot on target. Fortunately for West Ham, their shot resulted in the only goal of the game, courtesy of Benrahma.

Their reward for their low-quality encounter was a fourth-round tie against League One side Derby County. Despite the inferior opposition, West Ham fielded a strong team again. This time, unlike their game against Blackburn in the Carabao Cup, it did pay dividends.

They took the lead within the first 10 minutes through Bowen and were cruising when Michail Antonio made it 2-0 just 5 minutes after halftime. They ended the game with no issues and were more than worthy of their result.

Their fifth-round encounter was an away tie against Man United. After a very even first half, both sides were level. That was until the 54th minute when Benrahma gave the visitors a surprise lead.

West Ham managed to hold on to their lead until the 77th minute when Aguerd put through his own net to make it 1-1. There was late drama in this one, and unfortunately for them, it did not go in West Ham’s favour.

In the 90th minute, Garnacho broke any hopes of a West Ham upset by giving Man United the lead for the first time, and 5 minutes later, Fred ended the contest with another goal, making it 3-1.

West Ham will feel unfortunate to have been knocked out. They did well against Man United, but it may have helped them manage their fixture list towards the back end of the season, and it may have worked out better for them.

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Europa Conference League

After West Ham’s performance in the Premier League last season, they achieved a spot in the Europa Conference League. They first had to navigate a playoff round against Danish side Viborg.

West Ham showed they were more than capable of competing, as Scamacca put them into the lead in the first half. Bowen made it 2-0 before Bonde pulled one back for the away side. Antonio made it 3-1 with 12 minutes to go, giving The Hammers a good lead going into the second leg.

The second leg was almost a carbon copy of the first, with Scamacca opening the scoring in the first half again. Benrahma doubled the lead in the second half, and Soucek finished the rout, giving West Ham a 6-1 aggregate win, and a place in the knockout stages.

West Ham’s group stage consisted of Romanian side FCSB, Danish side Silkeborg and a tricky tie against Belgium side Anderlecht. Their first game of the group stage was a home tie against FCSB.

It did not go entirely West Ham’s way to start with. They conceded in the first half and went in at the break 1-0 down. They got back into the game with 20 minutes to go through a Bowen penalty, and 5 minutes later Emerson got The Hammers in front. Antonio made sure there were no late twists as he made it 3-1, giving West Ham an all-important 3 points in their first game.

Their second game was away against Silkeborg. West Ham were slow to start with, as they conceded within the first 7 minutes. Lanzini equalised soon after, and Scamacca and Dawson gave them a commanding 3-1 lead at halftime. Silkeborg pulled one back with 15 minutes to go, but West Ham held on to make it 2 wins from 2.

A doubleheader against Anderlecht was next for West Ham, with the away tie to come first. It was a very tight game, settled by the one goal, coming 11 minutes from time courtesy of Scamacca.

The reverse fixture was the opposite. West Ham started fast in this one, as Benrahma scored after 14 minutes, and Bowen made it 2-0 on the half-hour mark. Esposito scored an 89th-minute penalty to pull one back, but The Hammers made it 4 wins from 4.

Silkeborg were the next team to make the trip to London, and they made the return empty-handed. A sole Lanzini penalty after 24 minutes ensured West Ham remained unbeaten in the group.

West Ham made it 6 wins from 6 games after their trip to FCSB. A brave from Fornals and a Dawa own goal gave The Hammers a 3-0, ensuring they finished top of their group.

After a perfect start in the competition, they faced Cyprian side AEK Larnaca in the round of 16. West Ham recorded a 2-0 win away from home, a first-half brace being enough to ensure they came back to London with a strong lead.

The second leg was even more simple. Scamacca gave the hosts the lead after 21 minutes, and Ledes being sent off for Larnaca did not help matters. West Ham then proceeded to run riot in the second half, with goals from Bowen (2) and Mubama giving them a 6-0 aggregate win.

Onto the quarter-finals, The Hammers were drawn against Belgium side Gent. Away from home, and in the first leg, Danny Ings gave West Ham the lead in first-half stoppage time, but a second-half goal from Cuypers meant they returned to London with the tie hanging in the balance.

In the second leg, Cuypers was the hero again for Gent, as he gave the visitors the lead on the night, and on aggregate. That lead lasted only 11 minutes as Antonio equalised minutes before halftime.

With the tie finely poised again, West Ham took charge in the second half, as quick-fire goals from Paqueta, Rice and Antonio ensured West Ham sailed into the semi-finals with ease.

Dutch side AZ Alkmaar awaited West Ham in the semi-finals. West Ham started poorly in the home leg, and was behind going into half-time, courtesy of a goal from Reijnders. Benrahma equalised from the spot in the second half, and 9 minutes after that, Antonio gave them the lead.

West Ham took their slender lead to Alkmaar, and despite being dominated on the ball, ensured their progress to the Europa Conference League final, courtesy of a 95th-minute goal from Pablo Fornals. The win meant West Ham was going to be taking part in their first European final in 47 years.

Their opponents in the final were Italian side Fiorentina, who were undoubtedly West Ham’s most difficult opponents of their entire cup run. The stage was set in Prague, as the Fortuna Arena welcomed both sets of fans for a memorable final.

It was a rather difficult viewing for West Ham to start with. They were being dominated on the ball, and Fiorentina were getting shots off, but not many on target thankfully for The Hammers. The first half came and went with no real action.

The second half really came to life. Benrahma continued his fine form in Europe as his 62nd-minute penalty gave West Ham the lead. It did not last long, however, as Bonaventura equalised just 5 minutes later to level the scores.

With the game finely hanging in the balance, and the possibility of extra time looming large, a hero stepped up and netted one of the most dramatic goals of the season. From playing with Hereford United to scoring the winning goal in stoppage time in a European Cup final for West Ham, Jarred Bowen broke the Italian resistance.

There was no need for extra time after that, as the celebrations soon began. The win gave West Ham their first major trophy in 43 years and ensured they would play in the Europa League next year, despite their poor season in the Premier League.

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Season Overall

Overall, it has been an absolute rollercoaster of a season for West Ham. Their new signings, especially Paqueta and Aguerd have performed brilliantly for them all season, but at times, the team have been unable to contend with all 3 cup competitions.

Their Carabao Cup and FA Cup journeys were very disappointing. They did get knocked out by a big team, in Man United, in the FA Cup, which may offer them some respite, but their Carabao Cup exit is inexcusable.

They did brilliantly to taste victory in Europe, but they need to find a way to balance their games. They struggled after their Thursday night games, and often could not carry their form over to the Premier League, which may explain their poor performances.

They need to invest now to be more competitive in all competitions. They are making a step up into the Europa League, where they will be coming up against much more difficult teams. The Premier League has, again, stepped up in standard, and so West Ham need to improve their squad or face the consequences.

There have been question marks over David Moyes throughout the season. The fans are divided as to whether he is the right man to take West Ham to that next level, and it will be interesting to see whether they stick with him or not.

Overall, it is difficult to judge whether West Ham have had a good season or not. They finally ended their silverware drought, but also nearly got relegated. They did stay in the league though, which is a success, but is still disappointing considering their performance in the league last season. Time for them to kick on now.

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