West Ham are vying for a spot in Europe next year, which either a fifth or fourth-place finish in the table will secure.

Can the Hammers unseat Manchester United for a place in Europe this year? Let’s take a closer look…

Ladbrokes odds for 2015/16 (as of March 2016)

To finish in the top four: 7/1

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History in Premier League

West Ham United first joined the Premier League in time for the 1993-94 season.

After many years of promotion and relegation from the top flight, the Hammers experienced a prolonged period of relative stability with 10 straight seasons in the Premier League.

Under Harry Redknapp’s first two seasons at the helm, the Hammers battled relegation. Yet after this came a period of relative success. Five straight mid-table finishes were followed by a fifth-place finish in 1998-99.

This was their highest end position in the top flight since 1986 and is still their best ever in the Premier League.

Glenn Roeder’s first season as manager (2001-02) finished in a respectable seventh-place finish. However, his failure to buy players in time for the 2002-03 campaign saw West Ham relegated in 18th place.

Two seasons in the second tier followed until a play-off win in the Championship saw West Ham move up again and stay in the Premier league for a further five seasons.

After succumbing to the drop again after ending 2010-11 in bottom-place, they came up to the Premier League in time for 2012-13 and three finishes around mid-table followed.

Manager

Slaven Bilić

Slaven Bilić became manager of West Ham just before the start of the 2015/16 campaign.

The Croatian started coaching Croatia’s Under-21 team in 2004 before taking the reins as senior national team manager in the summer of 2006. In six years, he guided his country to the quarter-finals of the 2008 UEFA European Championship.

Bilić then spent a year as head coach of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian league.

He made a great start to his career at West Ham with 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates. Just a few weeks later, Bilić hit the record books when he became the first Hammers boss to win at Anfield since Ron Greenwood in 1963.

Bilić also led West Ham to a third straight away win in September 2015, when they beat Manchester City 2-1.

Key player

Dimitri Payet

The French international is tipped to be in his country’s national squad as hosts of Euro 2016 in the summer. Much of the reason for this lies in his impressive form in 2015-16, resulting in a number of goals and some crucial assists.

Costing the Hammers an estimated £10 million back in the summer, the influential Frenchman is widely thought to be one of the Premier League’s best buys of the year.

Payet was plagued by an ankle injury at the start of the season, but as long as he stays fit, he will remain vital to his team’s campaign until the end of 2015-16.

As it stands (March 2016), the experts here at Ladbrokes don’t think that West Ham will make it into the Champions League. We also think Manchester United or Liverpool could pip them to the post for fifth place.

However, at 7-1 to finish in the top four, those are good odds for a team in fine form – worth a punt?

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