After a couple of seasons of good growth under manager David Moyes, West Ham United’s fortunes certainly turned in the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.
Despite the less than perfect disruptions the world of football has seen in recent years, nor in the eyes of many, the very ill timed European domestic break to allow the first ever winter World Cup out in Qatar to take place, West Ham have struggled pretty much from day one this year.
The main frustration for fans has been our better European form, which saw us take six straight victories in our Group B competition and we already have a 2-0 advantage over AEK Larnaca in our Round of 16 double header, but that form and those performances levels have rarely translated back to our domestic clashes – so undoubtedly fans will want West Ham tickets for the second leg.
However, last weekend fans finally had something a bit more tangible to celebrate (or at least take some relief from) as our 1-1 draw with Unai Emery’s Aston Villa side lifted us back out of the relegation drop zone. Moyes will be hoping it is not a simple budget vacation away from the bottom three.
Whilst Moyes was not one hundred percent happy with the result or performance, he was pleased with the second half reaction from the squad, and he even felt that by the end we could have snatched the extra two points to turn it into a much better day.
“The performance was much improved in the second half. I feel we dropped two points in the end because of the chances we created. We did a good job in the second half. It was tough in the first. The biggest thing was to get a result on Thursday (the Europa Conference League). The performance wasn’t where we wanted it to be so we wanted a performance today and overall I’m really pleased.”
We remain tied on points with both Leicester City (above) and AFC Bournemouth (below) but it is certainly a step in the right direction, and the difference in goal difference that we hold on other sides could prove to be absolutely key. A short run of back to back wins could really propel us up the table now and into mid-table safety, particularly given we have a game in hand on a couple of the sides closely situated above us.
Coming out of the relegation zone, at this stage, is simply a bit of breathing room though. It absolutely has to be built on, and quickly as games are running out and the reality is that anybody from Crystal Palace (12th place) down could easily swap places with the current bottom three in the space of even two games, let alone the next three matches.
And our current position could see us slip right back in based on whatever happens in the very next game, and whilst the second leg clash against Larnaca on Thursday evening is now the next priority, we have to make absolutely sure that we use the upcoming international break to really hit the ground running when football returns and we welcome Southampton to The London Stadium as we turn into April.
The month sees problematic fixtures against the likes of Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool, but we really should be looking for points in all the other matches, and should we secure those, it should definitely provide breathing room at the lower half of the table.
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