West Ham United face Wolves with both teams believing that a place in the top four is achievable

Here we are, the final game in February and just 12 games to go in the Premier League this season for West Ham. In view of the (mainly Covid) interruptions to the season that happened a few weeks ago some of the other teams competing for a place in the top four have either 13 or 14 games left prior to this weekend’s fixtures. I may be wrong but I can’t recall many (if any) Premier League postponements due to Covid since the transfer window closed. Interesting. No doubt someone will tell me if I am under a misapprehension here. Am I the only one who would have liked to see players recruited in the winter window stopped from playing in games that are rescheduled following postponements? Perhaps it is just because I am a West Ham fan and we didn’t have any additions to our squad? The only game I can remember being called off involving us was against Norwich and that was postponed at the request of our opponents and was quickly rearranged and played.

We currently sit in sixth place, still in touch and challenging for a top four place, although our recent indifferent performances mean that it would take a strong set of results in the run-in to achieve this. In many ways it is still in our own hands as we have to face seven of the top ten teams in our remaining 12 fixtures. Those seven teams are starred in the league table below.

The current league table – top 10 (games played in brackets)

Man City 63 (26) *
Liverpool 60 (26) *
Chelsea 50 (25) *
Man Utd 46 (26)
Arsenal 45 (24) *
West Ham 42 (26)
Wolves 40 (25) *
Tottenham 39 (24) *
Southampton 35 (26)
Brighton 33 (25) *

The form table (last 5 games of the top 10 in the current league table)

Liverpool 15
Man Utd 11
Southampton 11
Man City 10
Arsenal 10
Wolves 9
Chelsea 8
West Ham 5
Brighton 5
Tottenham 3

In addition to facing the seven teams in the top ten as outlined above, we also face five games against teams in the bottom half, and they too can be tricky fixtures with clubs fighting to retain their position in the top flight. Those games are against Villa (13th), Brentford (14th), Everton (16th), Burnley (18th) and Norwich (20th).

The form table, where I have collated the points for the last 5 Premier League games played by the teams speaks for itself to some extent. A few minutes from the end of their midweek game against Arsenal our opponents this weekend looked as though they would be recording their fourth win in the last five games and relegating us to seventh in the league. The Arsenal equaliser (had the game finished at 1-1) would possibly have been the best result for us but it wasn’t to be, and the Gunners very late winner puts them in the driving seat at this stage for the fourth spot but (as they say) there is still a lot of football to be played.

Unlike ourselves Wolves had a poor start to the season losing their first three games and finding themselves in 18th place in the table. But four wins in their next five league games turned it round, and by the time they beat us 1-0 in Matchweek 12 they had climbed to sixth place in the table, and they have remained comfortably in the top half ever since.

They have a mean defence and the 20 goals conceded in their 25 league games is bettered only (slightly) by Manchester City and Chelsea. But only Burnley and Norwich have scored fewer than Wolves (less than one goal a game) have scored – 24. Sa has been a revelation in goal and one of the mainstays of my Fantasy Football team.

I am hoping that the week’s rest (as opposed to Wolves game in the week against Arsenal) will work in our favour. I think that maybe we need a different approach, a change in personnel and formation perhaps, to try to recapture some of our early season form. No doubt the manager and his staff have been working on this, and I won’t try to guess what they have come up with. There is certainly plenty of conjecture on social media amongst our fans as to what this might entail. Or perhaps it will be more of the same, hoping that out of form players will regain their early season form.

Wolves games this season have been low scoring affairs and I doubt that this will be any different. It’s not a must win, but certainly a do not lose, if we are to stay in the hunt. I am hoping (as always) for a win but a draw is not out of the question. 0-0 or 1-1 perhaps? No, I reckon we’ll sneak a narrow win, 1-0 or 2-1.

But where will we finish come the end of the season? Top 3 is out of the question. 4th or 5th is possible although the odds are stacked against it at the moment. It could be 6th, 7th, 8th or possibly even lower. Surely not. I’ll go for 6th – the same as last season. I’ve noted the Europa draw. Sevilla could potentially be the best team in the competition. 2nd in the Spanish league, chasing Real Madrid at the top, and only two league defeats all season. We’ll certainly need to be at our best for that tie.

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