The 2015/16 campaign has certainly proven to be a successful one for Slaven Bilic’s Hammers thus far. As the East End outfit could still end the current term with a long awaited FA Cup in the trophy cabinet and the prospect of Champions League football waiting patiently on the table ahead of next season, there has arguably never been a better time to be an Irons fan in Premier League history.
Yet despite the Hammers’ admittedly impressive form so far this season, Bilic’s determined side have nonetheless dropped several key points in the race for an illustrious top-four place in recent weeks, after several controversial refereeing decisions have ultimately hindered their progress.
So then, in light of Mark Clattenburg’s latest high profile calamity involving the unfair dismissal of Cheikhou Kouyate last time out at the Boleyn Ground – is an all-important place among the Premier League’s top-four now out of reach for West Ham United?
Well, as each of Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United successfully picked up all three points last weekend in relatively assured style, perhaps West Ham may have ultimately lost their opportunity to steal a march on their star-studded opposition.
Arsenal know what it takes to qualify for the Champions League year after year after year, Man City obviously have the strongest squad on paper to fall back on in this now crucial stage of the campaign, and Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils also out-punch their east London opposition in terms of overall experience and resources available.
Had West Ham not been subject to such a poor standard officiating in their last few Premier League outings, then perhaps the dynamic would have proven more favourable for Bilic’s side at this current stage, but seeing as the Hammers have it all to do between now and the end of the season, their overall chances of a top-four finish remain slim at best right in the here and now.
But as the 2015/16 campaign has so far proven one of the most unpredictable in recent memory, with the league’s so-called ‘bigger’ teams consistently slipping up when the odds are supposedly stacked in their favour, why can’t the Upton Park faithful look to dream big in their last ever season at the Boleyn Ground?
Such an approach has worked wonders for supporters at the King Power Stadium, after all. As we all are well aware that top-flight Premier League proceedings are ultimately played out on the pitch as opposed to on paper, there really is no specific reason to count West Ham out of the running with seven important league fixtures left to be decided.
Bilic’s ambitious outfit have several significant upcoming home games to contend with in the not too distant future, and with the squad is nearing full fitness, with the exception of one or two stand-out contributors, if the Premier League’s proud selection of often sub-standard referees can finally get their act together before the culmination of the campaign, West Ham remain well-placed even at this particular stage in the proceedings.
So then, although very few genuine Hammers fans would be disappointed with the second-choice option of Europa League football at the Olympic Stadium next season, a place among the top-four isn’t quite yet out of reach.