Are there some positives to take away from West Ham’s 3-0 defeat to Burnley? Leaving aside the crowd trouble for the moment, West Ham did start the game well. They bossed the first half, with Lanzini looking particularly impressive, and were unlucky not to go into the break a couple of goals ahead.
However, before the pitch invasion Burnley were starting to get the upper hand in the match. Chris Wood has been a useful impact sub for the Clarets in the past and changed the game again here, laying on an assist before the crowd trouble started. After that, West Ham effectively collapsed with Wood bagging two more to give Burnley one of the biggest away win margins in their Premier League history.
Pitch invasion played a role in West Ham’s collapse
Quite what the ‘fans’ invading the pitch were hoping to achieve is hard to understand. Yes, there is some frustration with the board, but was that the best way to show it? That kind of thing only has a negative impact on the players – some were visibly shaken – and in no way can be positive for West Ham. Mark Noble may get into trouble for his actions (removing a fan), but you can also understand his frustration.
So, what happens going forward? West Ham are currently three points above Crystal Palace in the relegation zone with eight games remaining. That gap looks very small after the debacle at the London Stadium. That home fixture against Burnley would surely have been marked as a must-win by Moyes, because the remaining fixtures are incredibly tough:
Southampton (H) 31st March
Chelsea (A) 8th April
Stoke (H) 16th April
Arsenal (A) 23rd April
Man City (H) 29th April
Leicester (A) 5th May
Everton (H) 12th May
Manchester United (H) DATE TBC
Betting odds point to tight relegation battle
As you can see, those games are daunting to say the least. It includes four matches against the Big 6. Compare that to Palace, who have just one game against the Big 6 clubs. The current odds for relegation are West Brom 1/66, Stoke 8/11, Southampton 15/8, Palace 2/1, West Ham 9/4, Huddersfield 5/2, Swansea 4/1 and Newcastle 12/1 (Bet365). 2018 UK bookmakers odds are fluctuating all the time for this wide-open relegation battle however, with only West Brom looking sure to go down.
While most Hammers fans probably couldn’t stomach betting on West Ham to be relegated – despite how they may feel about the board – there is still hope for staying up. In fact, West Ham are priced at 1/3 to stay up with Betfred. It is going to be tough though, starting with that crucial six-pointer against Southampton on 31st March. They also suffered a 3-0 defeat this weekend (away to Newcastle), so both clubs will feel it is must win.
Huge effort required in remaining eight fixtures
You feel players like Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic will be the key to staying up. However, West Ham also need the fans on side too. What happened in the game against Burnley should not be repeated – there are other ways to voice frustration with the board. The club has seen tough times before, but that has normally saw the players, fans and management pull together in the same direction. West Ham have the talent on the pitch to get out of this mess – it’s part of the reason the bookmakers have given them good odds to survive – but it is going to require everyone giving 100%.