While West Ham United enjoyed a memorable Europa League journey in 2021-22, the Europa Conference League is where they will be competing next season courtesy of their seventh-placed finish in the Premier League.
After suffering defeat over two legs in the Europa League semi-finals, the Hammers were unable to win their final two top-flight matches and eventually finished just two points behind Manchester United in sixth.
Nevertheless, there have been plenty of highs which David Moyes and co can reflect on with pride, and here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at West Ham's eventful 2021-22 campaign.
Final league position: 7th
EFL Cup: Fourth round
FA Cup: Fifth round
Europa League: Semi-finals
Top scorer: Jarrod Bowen (18)
Most assists: Jarrod Bowen (13)
After a summer which saw Craig Dawson's loan deal from Watford made permanent, along with four fresh faces arriving at the London Stadium – Kurt Zouma, Nikola Vlasic, Alphonse Areola and Alex Kral – West Ham made a bright start to the campaign with three wins and two draws in their opening five matches across all competitions.
Their first two Premier League games saw them beat Newcastle United and Leicester City by 4-2 and 4-1 scorelines respectively. Michail Antonio – August's Player of the Month – scored three goals across these two fixtures and a brace against the Foxes saw him become West Ham's all-time leading scorer in the Premier League, surpassing club legend Paulo Di Canio.
The Hammers suffered their first defeat at home to Manchester United, with last season's loanee Jesse Lingard scoring an 89th-minute winner. Moyes's men got revenge, however, just three days later as a strike from Manuel Lanzini secured a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup third round.
This victory was one of eight in their next nine games across all competitions, which also saw them beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at the London Stadium and Manchester City 5-3 on penalties in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, to end the Citizens' four-year dominance in the competition.
West Ham became the first team to beat Liverpool in 2021-22 when they secured a 3-2 home win in November, and just a month later they beat Chelsea by the same scoreline. After four wins and one draw in the Europa League group stage ensured progression to the knockout rounds as group winners, a much-rotated Hammers side suffered a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in their final group game on December 9, with seven academy graduates given a runout at the London Stadium.
This result was the beginning of a five-game winless run in all competitions, including a league defeat to Arsenal and a fourth round EFL Cup exit at the hands of Spurs, before ending 2021 with a 4-1 win at Watford, with club legend Mark Noble scoring what proved to be his final Premier League goal.
West Ham won their first four league games in the New Year, before suffering back-to-back losses against Leeds and Man United. The defeat at Old Trafford was followed by a trip to sixth-tier outfit Kidderminster Harriers who were on course to cause a giant-killing in the FA Cup third round before Declan Rice equalised in stoppage time, to force the tie into extra time. Jarrod Bowen then netted a 120th-minute winner, to break the hearts of their non-league counterparts.
© Lime Pictures
In February – a month when Kurt Zouma was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after videos emerged of him kicking his pet cats – West Ham only picked up eight points from a possible 15 available in the Premier League and subsequently slipped down to seventh in the table, six points behind the top four with nine games remaining. A 3-1 loss away at Southampton also saw them eliminated in the FA Cup fifth round.
West Ham's season became all the more intriguing when they ventured into the knockout rounds of the Europa League in March. The Hammers were tasked with defeating six-time winners Sevilla over two legs in the last 16, and despite a 1-0 first-leg loss in Spain, they managed to win 2-0 after extra time in the reverse fixture, with Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko scoring an emotional winner.
In April, Lyon were their opponents in the quarter-finals and after securing a 1-1 draw with 10 men in the capital, the Hammers produced one of their best performances of the season in the second leg, with Dawson, Rice and Bowen all on the scoresheet to claim an impressive 3-0 win in the South of France.
Preparations for their Europa League semi-final clash with Eintracht Frankfurt were not ideal, as a draw at home to Burnley was followed by a slender defeat at Chelsea. Against Frankfurt, the Hammers went behind in the first minute of the first leg, before eventually losing 2-1.
A league defeat at home to Arsenal then followed, a result which ended their slim top-four hopes, before a narrow 1-0 loss away at Frankfurt in the second leg – a game which saw both Aaron Cresswell and Moyes sent off – ended their memorable Europa League journey, with their German counterparts going on to beat Rangers in the final.
With three Premier League games remaining, West Ham were sitting five points behind Man United who were occupying the final Europa League spot in sixth. A comfortable 4-0 win at Norwich followed which coincided with Man United's loss at Brighton & Hove Albion by the same scoreline, to reduce the deficit to sixth place by two points.
However, a 2-2 draw with eventual champions Man City – a game which they were leading 2-0 at half time – and a 3-1 loss to Brighton on the final day meant Moyes and co would have to settle for a seventh-placed finish and Europa Conference League football next season.
PREMIER LEAGUE STATS
Wins: 16 (=6th)
Draws: 8 (=9th)
Losses: 14 (=11th)
Goals scored: 60 (7th)
Goals conceded: 51 (12th)
Yellow cards: 47 (19th)
Red cards: 3 (=3rd)
Passes: 16,579 (11th)
Shots: 449 (=11th)
Big chances missed: 38 (11th)
Saves: 116 (11th)
Tackles: 534 (19th)
Own goals: 2 (=4th)
Hit woodwork: 10 (=13th)
Clearances: 755 (9th)
HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?
You could argue that West Ham's Premier League performances in the latter stages of the season were impacted by their Europa League run, with Moyes opting to rotate his side on numerous occasions. Injuries in defence, specifically at centre-back, also played their part.
The Hammers ended the campaign one place and nine points worse off than last season. They also scored marginally fewer and conceded slightly more in the league this term, with 60 goals scored and 51 conceded compared with 62 scored and 47 conceded last year.
Nevertheless, West Ham can be proud of their efforts in the Europa League – their first major European competition for 16 years – winning six, drawing two and losing four of their 12 matches.
For the second successive season, West Ham were eliminated in the fifth round of the FA Cup, while in the EFL Cup, they reached the quarter-finals for the first time in four years, an improvement on last season's fourth-round elimination.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON - JARROD BOWEN
While Declan Rice deserves all the plaudits that come his way, Jarrod Bowen elevated his game to new heights in 2021-22 and enjoyed a remarkable season with West Ham.
The 25-year-old predominantly operated on the right side of attack, but when Michail Antonio was not in the side, the former Hull City man was the forward called upon to play down the middle and he certainly took his chance.
In his first 18 months as a Hammer, Bowen contributed to 19 goals across all competition, but this campaign he found the net 18 times and provided 13 assists in 51 appearances in all tournaments.
Bowen also stepped up on the big occasions, scoring in both legs of their Europa League knockout tie with Lyon, as well as contributing to goals in league games against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, scoring twice against the latter earlier this month.
It has come as no surprise to see Bowen's impressive form rewarded with a call-up to Gareth Southgate's England squad for their Nations League matches next month.
After claiming a hard-fought draw in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie at home to Lyon, which saw Aaron Cresswell controversially dismissed in the first half, West Ham knew they would need to be at the top of their game to beat their French counterparts on the road.
The Hammers had won only one of their previous four matches in all competitions heading into the second leg, and after riding a wave of Lyon attacks in the opening exchanges, Craig Dawson rose above the host's backline to break the deadlock with a header in the 38th minute.
Declan Rice then added a crucial second just six minutes later, sending West Ham into half time with a two-goal aggregate lead. Lyon were then carved wide open early in the second half with Jarrod Bowen scoring a third just three minutes after the break.
David Moyes's men could have scored more but they settled for a convincing 3-0 victory away from home, with arguably one of their best performances of the season.
West Ham's last-16 victory at home to Europa League veterans Sevilla was a special night for the Hammers supporters, especially with Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko netting the winning goal amid the ongoing war in his homeland.
However, a standout moment was when Mr West Ham Mark Noble received a memorable and fitting send-off after their final home game of the season against Man City. The electric reception the 35-year-old received at the London Stadium brought a tear to the midfielder's eye before he came on with the captain's armband for the final 13 minutes.
Noble, who spent his entire 18-year professional career at West Ham, was a peripheral figure in the first team squad in 2021-22, but he still managed to make 23 appearances across all competitions, 13 of which as a substitute.
Altogether, Noble made a total of 550 appearances for his boyhood club and leaves them competing at a much higher level to where they were earlier in his career.
TOP PRIORITY FOR SUMMER
Had West Ham strengthened in the January transfer window with at least a new striker and a centre-back, they may have coped better with their injury setbacks and their congested fixture schedule in the second half of the campaign. Moyes has revealed that he is set to bolster his squad this summer, and both a striker and centre-back are positions which he will likely target.
With 32-year-old Michail Antonio prone to injuries, the Hammers could do with a new number nine to provide competition for the Jamaican. The likes of Reims' Hugo Ekitike, Blackburn Rovers' Ben Brereton Diaz and Chelsea's Armando Broja have all been linked with a move to the London Stadium.
At centre-back, the long-term future of Issa Diop remains uncertain, while Angelo Ogbonna – who has missed the majority of this season with an ACL injury – turned 34 this month, so an addition at the heart of the defence could be made before the 2022-23 campaign begins.
As for outgoings, Mark Noble is retiring and both Yarmolenko and Ryan Fredericks are set to leave when their contracts expire, while Alex Kral's loan deal is due to end next month, with a renewal unlikely considering his lack of game time.
One of the most sought-after players in the Premier League is set to be Hammers midfielder Declan Rice, who has been heavily linked with Man United, Man City and Chelsea. Top Premier League clubs may also express their interest in Jarrod Bowen considering his rapid rise this campaign.
However, Moyes will be desperate to keep hold of both players and if they are to be competing for a top-six or even top-four place next season, then they must find a way to persuade the pair to remain at the London Stadium.
Some West Ham supporters may be a little disappointed with their 2021-22 campaign, having come so close to reaching a European final and finishing in a lower position in the Premier League. However, the Hammers should be proud of their achievements this season.
After narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League two years ago, David Moyes's side have since broken into the top seven and have qualified for Europe in successive seasons for the first time in their history.
The Hammers enjoyed memorable victories against both Sevilla and Lyon in Europe, while domestic triumphs were also claimed against Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Man City and Man United, showcasing the improvements made by the club in a short space of time.
Moyes and his players deserve huge credit for their efforts and with the addition of a few fresh faces this summer, they could be competing in and around the top once again in 2022-23.