West Ham continued their march away from the relegation zone with a duo of comfortable wins, firstly vs Newcastle United on the road, followed by Cardiff City at home. The Hammers were in the fray at the foot of the Premier League due to their poor start to the campaign under new manager Manuel Pellegrini. They lost their opening four matches of the term, including a poor 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers at London Stadium. The pressure was on the Chilean and his side to reverse their fortunes, which began with a strong performance on the road at Everton, securing a 3-1 triumph to end their winless start. Since then, West Ham’s form has been to their usual standard – solid, if unspectacular.

The Hammers have invested significantly in the transfer market in recent seasons, and although it has taken time, some of their key players are starting to fire. Marko Arnautovic has proven to be an astute purchase over the last two seasons, even though it did take him a little while to find his form. The Austrian has been the leading man for the Hammers in the final third, scoring 11 goals in his first season and is already well on the way to beating that tally with five strikes already to his name.

Felipe Anderson has enjoyed an excellent start to life in England following his £35m move from Lazio. The Brazilian has taken to the Premier League with ease, using his creative flair to score five goals and add another assist for Pellegrini’s men. His strikes were the difference in a 4-2 win over Burnley at London Stadium and he will continue to be vital throughout the campaign, providing a direct threat with his pace down the left flank.

The performances of the duo will play a pivotal role in West Ham’s bid to finish in the top half of the Premier League. The Hammers have finished in the top ten twice since their return to the top flight, but their slow start has put them behind the likes of Watford and Bournemouth in the betting odds to repeat that this year. That being said, West Ham’s quality could give them the edge down the stretch.

Javier Hernandez might be the most important out of their three stars. The Mexican cost £25m from Bayer Leverkusen and reportedly earns up to £145,000 per week. Hernandez was underwhelming on his return to the Premier League in his first campaign, notching eight goals in 28 appearances. He endured another slow start to the campaign, finding the net only once in his opening nine games. However, his performance against Newcastle proved his worth inside the box.

There are a few players in the Premier League that boast Hernandez’s finishing ability in close quarters. He made his name on his ability to find the net from close range during his time with Manchester United. With the attention drawn by Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson, there’s a potential Hernandez to cash in to attempt to break the 15-goal barrier for the first time. West Ham have not had a striker score 15 goals in the Premier League since Paolo Di Canio achieved the feat in the 1999/2000 season. Hernandez has the quality and the players alongside him to supply the ammunition, he needs to deliver to propel his team into the top half.