The English Premier League has gone through 15 weeks of action and the top four log looks like a fairy tale. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are in traditional positions, thus first to third positions respectively. However, West Ham United are placed fourth, Yes Fourth! Rub your eyes, sit up and refresh the page and the Hammers still stay fourth, A position that skipped the prognosis of fans and pundits ahead of the 2014/2015 season. West Ham United have gone through fifteen matches with eight wins, three draws and four loses. Nonetheless, the pundits and connoisseurs of English football won’t waste time but to say no position in the EPL is guaranteed even in December. It is with this statement in mind I take a look at the Hammers asking if there truly is a revolution or it’s a simple task of flattering to deceive.
A peek at the Hammers display last season 2013/2014 after same number of matches played (15) only reveals but the dark side of performance by the team managing just three wins, four draws and eight losses plus placed 17th with relegation points of thirteen, half what they have now (27). What has been the spur for the team?
Coach Sam Allardyce in the summer made a net expenditure of £31m bringing in notables like; Cheikhou Kouyaté (Anderlecht, £7m), Mauro Zárate (Velez Sarsfield), Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich, £4m), Enner Valencia (Pachuca, £12m), Alex Song (Barcelona, loan), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, loan), Diafra Sakho (£3.5m Metz), Morgan Amalfitano (Marseille). These signings hinted at Big Sam’s plan of not only being defensive minded but put more depth in midfield plus alternatives in attacking options.
The Claret and Blues have undergone a significant stylistic shift since last season. Whereas 2013-14 was about long balls and crosses, this season West Ham have retained the ball for longer periods in midfield. The stats vindicates the premise as the Hammers have scored 26 goals, more than half what they managed all of last season (40)
More important for the Hammers have been their impressive run of form at the Boleyn Ground. In eight outings at the Boleyn Ground, the Hammers have lost only twice bottling 18 points with famous wins coming against Liverpool and Manchester City. It only goes to make plain their confidence against the big guns. In any case, they are yet to face Chelsea on boxing day plus arsenal two days on.
With the African cup of nations beckoning, you can’t help but count the number of influential players Big Sam will lose to AFCON 2015. Top goal scorer (7) Diafra Sakho, midfield duo of Cheikhou Kouyaté and Alex Song. Not long along, Big Sam lashed at the Senegalese national team medical staff. Allardyce is so worried about how Sakho will be treated during the tournament in Equatorial Guinea, which begins on 17 January and runs for three weeks, that he wants to send a West Ham physiotherapist over with him to act as a chaperone.
Nonetheless, Andy Carroll, two goal hero in their 3-1 victory over Swansea has already fueled the title talk for the Hammers. “We have a great squad,” Carroll said, “and I can't say we are going to give up now we are in the top four. We have got a great team and we can go all the way. With the team we have got, and the manager, the way he is coaching everyone, it is fantastic, and I don’t think we will be giving up at all. I think there is no limit. We can go all the way to the top.”
If history never ceases to repeat itself, then the last time the hammers went eight wins out of fifteen league matches was in the 1988/1989 season under the leadership of Harry Redknapp and in that same season they placed 5th.
I leave the judgment with you. Will the Hammers hit a minimum of Europa League qualification or will they go back to finishing some four or five points above relegation?