West Ham’s win over Middlesbrough made it five in seven Premiership matches and with Andy Carroll back and banging in the goals, all is looking rosy again.
There were always going to be teething problems with adapting to a huge new stadium and it certainly cost the Hammers in the first half of the season, but the recent resurgence has been fantastic.
The Dimitri Payet situation is still a challenge, but West Ham have done their talking on the pitch and showed they can win comfortably without him, so Hammers fans can once more afford to be positive.
The bookmakers have certainly sat up and taken notice: Betonline reviews the form of all Premiership teams before releasing lines on each game, and more often than not the Hammers are favourites to win their games at present. Carroll really makes such a huge difference.
If he could only stay injury free West Ham would be challenging for European places each season. His goals have been crucial of late and his presence terrifies opposition defences, creating more space for the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio. If he can stay fit West Ham have an excellent chance of finishing in the top 10.
The odds of 7/5 on them doing so look great right now. Over the last 10 games they are in the top five teams in the league in terms of points gained. Over the past five games they are right near the top.
They face a tough run in but they have real momentum at present and should be able to secure a top half finish. If you offered Slaven Bilic that after they had been mauled 5-1 by Arsenal at the start of December, he would have bitten your hand off. The response has been magnificent and confidence is surging through the team right now.
The top seven teams look assured of remaining in those spots, so there are three places in the top 10 up for grabs. The contenders for those three spots are West Brom, Stoke, West Ham, Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton, Watford and Leicester.
Watford and Bournemouth have been dreadful of late, while Burnley have been great at home but abysmal away and will not harbour realistic hopes of a top half finish, so you can pretty much count those three out. That leaves five teams going for three places, and it could be a great battle. West Brom are in good form and are leading the pack right now, but they are arguably the weakest of all those teams.
Stoke are also on a roll and look good for a top half finish, and it would be a surprise if Southampton did not break into it, but already Leicester are looking adrift and the absence of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani – both away at the African Cup of Nations – will continue to hurt them, and West Ham can realistically expect to finish above them. Make up a four point gap on West Brom and they have cracked it.
Bookmakers are also offering odds on the Hammers finishing above specific teams. They are 13/8 to finish above West Brom and the same odds to finish above Southampton, so the bookies think that will be a tall order. But they are 10/11 to finish above Stoke, 2/3 to finish above Bournemouth and 1/2 to finish above Leicester. That would suggest West Ham are going to do it. The 10/11 on them finishing above Stoke looks risky, but the 13/8 on them finishing above West Brom looks really interesting.
For all West Brom’s stubbornness under Tony Pulis, West Ham are the better side with greater quality and can definitely overhaul them. But the pick of the bunch has to be the 2/3 on West Ham finishing above Bournemouth. They are already two points above them, and while the Hammers have won five of their last seven, Bournemouth have won just two out of seven.
The Cherries have shipped 11 goals in their last four games and are sliding down the table, so West Ham can really capitalise there.