West Ham have picked up where they left off last season — and Said Benrahma has been at the centre of their unbeaten start.
The 26-year-old already has two goals and two assists to his name in just four appearances this term, helping the Hammers kick-start their campaign with impressive victories against Newcastle and Leicester.
Now David Moyes’ men are set to take part in the Europa League group stage for the first time, beginning with tonight’s clash against Dinamo Zagreb.
Here is why the Algerian winger will be vital to their success in Europe and the Premier League.
A step up
The step up from the Championship to England’s top flight is not always an easy one but Benrahma has made encouraging progress.
Prior to joining West Ham, the tricky winger scored 17 goals in 43 Championship appearances for Brentford in 2019-20.
Keeping up that type of goal return was always going to be a challenge and he only managed to find the net once last season in an underwhelming campaign.
But with a pair of strikes in the Premier League already this term, the Algerian appears primed to start upping his output at the London Stadium.
Former England midfielder Danny Murphy suggested as much when reflecting on his performance against Newcastle back in August.
Murphy said: "You can tell he [Benrahma] is a goalscorer.
"I know he only got one last year but he scored loads of goals at Brentford and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s got the ability to get double figures if he plays regularly in this West Ham side."
While some players can wilt on the big stage, others are able to draw on the quality of those around them to improve their game.
Benrahma joined West Ham ahead of one of the best seasons in the club’s recent history.
Last term's finish of sixth was their highest in the top flight since 1998-99, when they secured fifth and were rewarded with a place in the now defunct Intertoto Cup.
It is often the case that a player moving from an impressive Championship side can find themselves worse off at a Premier League outfit merely aiming to avoid relegation.
But Benrahma looks to have found himself the perfect place to continue his development.
A European stage
What is more, West Ham's impressive showing last season saw them qualify for the Europa League.
This means that Benrahma is not only able to showcase his talents in the highest-profile domestic league in the world, he will also be able to do so on the continental stage.
West Ham have been drawn in a group with Genk and Rapid Vienna, as well as tonight’s Croatian opponents.
On paper, it looks like a low-key group but could provide for an interesting dynamic and some exciting matches.
It is also one from which Moyes and his side will fancy their chances of progressing, giving Benrahma and his team-mates a potential path into the knockout phase.
The centre of attention
Benrahma is able to operate in a variety of attacking midfield positions but has mostly been deployed on the left wing.
He has also played a number of games on the right for Brentford, Nice and Angers, as well as featuring in a handful of different areas for West Ham last season.
So far this term, he has been used centrally as well as out wide.
The graphic below shows the positions in which he receives passes and the movements he makes — and indicates his key role behind striker Michail Antonio.
That new position is paying dividends, as Moyes has alluded to.
The Hammers boss said: "I think you can see a slight change in his play and his development.
"It can’t always be the Said Benrahma show, it has to be for the team — that is what we’re interested in."
Antonio link up
With Antonio suspended for one domestic game following his red card against Southampton, Benrahma will have to step up — only one of his four goal involvements in 2021-22 has not involved the red-hot Hammers frontman.
Antonio has assisted both of Benrahma’s goals while the Algerian has returned the favour on one occasion, with his other assist being for Pablo Fornals.
West Ham will be able to call on both players tonight and the duo will be aiming to link up as successfully in Europe as they have done in the Premier League this season.