Can Jarrod Bowen fire West Ham into the Champions League?

West Ham, Jarrod Bowen
(Image credit: PA)

Jarrod Bowen is the talisman West Ham United need to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League, according to Micah Richards.

The forward has been the revelation of David Moyes' side's stunning season and has scored six goals in his last six appearances, including the winning strikes in their most recent victories over Kidderminster Harriers and Watford.

West Ham went into Sunday's round of fixtures in pole position to finish in the top four and Sky Sports pundits Micah Richards and Graeme Souness believe they have what it takes to pip Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal to the coveted fourth-spot.

And Richards believes Bowen is key to the club's Champions League ambitions.

"The form of Bowen has been inspirational this season, he seems to get better and better each time you watch him. He’s getting them so many points," Richards said.

"They're a great group, they're workhorses, but to go to the Champions league you have to have  at least one special player and Bowen right now is that. if he can keep his form until the rest of the season, why not?"

Souness also backed West Ham to make it into the top four come the end of May but  is concerned about their defensive fragility. Moyes' side have let in 31 goals this season, the third-worst defensive record in the Premier League's top 10.

"I make them slight favourites to stay there, they’re a group  playing with confidence," he said. 

"They’re believing in themselves, they’re conceding too many goals for their managers liking, but they’re sharing the goals around amongst themselves and they’ve got great players.

"They’ve got an experienced manager who knows what he’s doing, but above all West Ham are a team that have got really good players.

"Its encouraging they’ve got 14 different goals, but equally important, it's 31 goals they’ve conceded,  that’s too many. Knowing the way Moyes sets his teams up, to defend first and keep it tight, he won’t be happy with that. But maybe that’s a sign of their adventurism."

Jamie Carragher, however, poured cold water on the prospect of West Ham making it into Europe's big time.

"It is very difficult and I think David Moyes in the transfer window was desperate to get a striker in, hoping that that firepower could get them over the line. As we’ve seen with Leicester it is very tough," he said.

"With West Ham they have the advantage that because we don’t expect them to be in the top four we saw there’s not that scrutiny when they lose. They can have a bad result and there's not that pressure like at the other 'Big Six' clubs who think finishing in the top four is the be all and end all. But I think they’ll just miss out."

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Richard Martin is an experienced football writer, editor and social media producer. Before returning to London, he spent 10 years in Spain as a football correspondent and has attended over 600 games across 16 countries, his favourite being Argentina. He has also worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Times and AS.