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    Why winning Europa League group is important for West Ham

    West Ham have secured top spot in their Europa League group with a game to spare thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna in the Austrian capital on Thursday night.

    That is important for two reasons. Firstly, it gives the Hammers breathing room ahead of what will be a busy December and January in the Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup. Secondly, it secures them a bye past the first knockout round of the Europa League.

    There were doubts before the season over how well West Ham would cope with the Premier League/Europa League balance. Other clubs have typically struggled in the past, with the addition of European football to their schedule adversely affecting their domestic form.

    If anything, David Moyes’ Hammers have been even better in the Premier League this season than last, threatening to upset the status quo by challenging for a top four place.

    Moyes has been able to rotate his team in Europe – Thursday night’s XI saw eight changes to the team that started against Wolves in the Premier League five days earlier – and will have that comfort even more on matchday six when nothing is riding on the game against Dinamo Zagreb.

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