Now I’m not suggesting that this West Ham team are going to pip Chelsea and Manchester City to claim the Premier League title, however I am suggesting that finishing in the top four is starting to become an increasingly realistic target.
Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool; two sides traditionally in the scrap for the coveted top four positions just plain and simply aren’t good enough to maintain a challenge, they don’t have the quality. (Amazing considering they’ve blown over 200 million between them recently) Arsenal? Well they’re always there come the season’s end but there can be no guarantees, especially in a season which isn’t seemingly following any particular script.
The victory over Swansea City that took us to third in the league showcased how West Ham have evolved; time and time again this season we’ve fallen behind and whilst in the previous campaigns in many cases that was it, game over, this West Ham side keep going, they have the quality to open up any side in the league. When we go a goal down now we know we have that oh so precious commodity of goals in our locker; and we’ve done it time and time again this season, the character in the side beyond measure.
Whilst the likes of Spurs and Liverpool have literally spent hundreds of millions on average players, West Ham have spent a fraction and yet acquired real quality. The powers that be and Big Sam should be commended time and time again for their astute business during the summer because as the Lilywhites and Kopites have so emphatically proved; it’s easily to spend money on dross.
Sam Allardyce deserves endless credit for this revolution, at the start of the season he was the favourite for the sack and now he’s surely the leading contender for Manager of the Season. We’re unrecognisable from the side that lost 2-1 to Fulham on new year’s day and now he’s surely set for a new contract and who knows maybe even ‘Big Sam’s claret and blue army’ will soon be echoing around the Boleyn Ground.
Sunderland (A) and Leicester City (H) next up, now under normal circumstances especially at this time of year they’d be labelled ‘six-pointers’ however they’re key games that we must take at least four points from in order to maintain our top four challenge. (It feels so good and yet so surreal typing those words) as after we take on the struggling duo, it’ll be Chelsea and Arsenal back to back, however on this form do we need to fear our capital rivals? Is defeat against them really inevitable?
This season thus far has surpassed even the optimistic of supporters, everyone is still waiting for our bubble to burst and everyone is still waiting for the status quo of Liverpool, Spurs, Everton and Arsenal to come charging up the table and prove we’re just a flash in the pan. It hasn’t happened yet and I’m not convinced it’s going to happen at all.