Here we are, two weeks on from my last review prior to the Wolves game and just 10 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 at the top of the table have either 11, 12 or even 13 games left prior to this weekend’s fixtures. It makes comparisons difficult.
As I wrote only a fortnight ago 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? A blatant example of the point I am making was demonstrated in the Southampton v Newcastle game on Thursday night. Eddie Howe fielded six players who were not available when the game was scheduled to be played in January before it was postponed due to Newcastle’s COVID / injury situation at the time.
How convenient for the Geordies that Chris Wood, a £25 million signing from Burnley in the winter transfer window, scored his first goal for the Tynesiders to equalise Southampton’s opening goal. And then Guimaraes, a £40 million signing, scored the winner with an outrageous back-heeled volley. The winning goal was assisted by Burn who headed a Targett corner back across goal. Both of those were January recruits too. Newcastle have benefitted enormously, not just from the injection of funds following the takeover, but also from the postponements. Surely the Premier League should have acted to prevent this unfair situation arising?
We currently sit in sixth place still, in touch and challenging for a top four place, although our recent indifferent performances and results of others means that it would take a number of wins in the run-in to achieve this. Perhaps 5th, 6th, 7th or even 8th looks our most likely finishing position as it stands but a lot can change. At this stage it is impossible to know where we would need to finish to qualify for Europe, as this depends on winners of cup competitions.
Our 1-0 defeat to Sevilla leaves the tie still wide open but we should not underestimate how difficult it might be to overturn even just a one goal deficit. If we want to advance into the last eight we will need to become the first team from England to overcome these Europa League specialists. Tottenham, Wolves and Manchester United have all tried and failed in the past.
And for a team with the fourth highest number of goals scored in the Premier League this season so far we have suddenly lost our ability to convert chances into goals. In the past week against both Liverpool and Sevilla how many golden opportunities to score were spurned? This will need to be improved if we are to stand a chance of progressing in the Europa League and continuing our challenge in the domestic league.
The current league table – top 10
Man City 69 from 28 games
Liverpool 63 from 27 games
Chelsea 56 from 27 games
Arsenal 48 from 25 games
Man Utd 47 from 28 games
West Ham 45 from 28 games
Tottenham 45 from 26 games
Wolves 43 from 28 games
Villa 36 from 27 games
Southampton 35 from 28 games
The form table (last 5 games of the top 10 in the current league table)
Man City 12
West Ham 8
Man Utd 8
Our opponents this weekend have climbed into the top half of the table in the past fortnight. They have looked very impressive in recent games when beating Southampton and Leeds and will be a difficult proposition on Sunday. Coutinho seems to have regained his Liverpool form after his difficult time abroad. They will visit the London Stadium full of confidence. We haven’t managed to score more than one goal in any of our last five games in all competitions. I reckon that we will need to do so on Sunday if we are to collect the three points that we need to maintain our challenge in the Premier League. What are the chances?