In a season of odd results and inconsistency, West Ham have been one of the Premier League’s most impressive sides.
An excellent summer has changed the mood in east London, where the calls for Sam Allardyce to be axed were strong, with the top four seen as a ever more realistic aim.
So, have the Hammers got genuine reason to dream? Maybe, and here are FIVE reasons why…
From relying on Carlton Cole for a large slice of last season, West Ham now have multiple options to slot in and out of the forward line. Andy Carroll’s return from injury has been a prime example, with top scorer Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia’s roles now under threat long-term. Such depth means competition for a role is high, which should, in theory, keep everyone at the peak of their powers, and allow Allardyce to rotate his options over the festive period – which is typically the section of the season so called weaker teams fall away.
It’s not just ‘up top’ that ‘Big Sam’ has decisions to make, with some wise summer purchases now presenting a wealth of choices in midfield and defence.
The weekend’s results could not have been much better for the Irons. The majority of their rivals slipped up, allowing the Londoners to boost their top four credentials. Swansea, also in the upper reaches of the division, presented a potential ‘six pointer’, which West Ham came through unscathed. Manchester United vs. Southampton is a game worth keeping an eye on, but if the Londoners’ luck is really in, a draw will further increase the ‘what if?’ calls at Upton Park.
In Song, West Ham have a genuine midfield dictator. The Cameroonian was a real coup for the Hammers over the summer as they secured a somewhat surprise loan deal for the Barcelona ace, which now looks to be one of the best bits of business during the window. Although he has no direct assists to his name in Premier League action, Song has contributed hugely to West Ham’s forward play, with his pass success rate hovering around 80%.
Love or hate Allardyce, the man knows how to get results in the Premier League. Last season may be one to forget, but the former Bolton man has proven himself in the lower end of the division, and may now have the squad to make a real push for the upper echelons.
Experience is an underrated trait, and it could be a vital one while other sides are stumbling.
16 points from eight games at Upton Park is a decent record. Only two sides –Spurs and Southampton – have come away from east London with maximum points, making the Hammers’ home ground somewhat a fortress nowadays. Maintaining such a record could be the bedrock of a top four push, with West Ham’s away form also respectable.