During the past few days, I read a very interesting posted in the Australian version of the Guardian, assessing the possibilities of a number of sides who are vying for the top six positions in the Premier League
A number of factors were assessed, the most important being the category named ‘Five Shining Lights?’ Predictably, Dimitri Payet was nominated as the stand-out West Ham player, with special mentions for Manual Lanzini, Michail Antonio, Mark Noble, and Aaron Cresswell.
While the article was very pro-West Ham, there was almost a sense that our end of season Premier League position would depend on how well these players would perform in our remaining fixtures.
While the article touched on other factors, such as fan support, quality of manager, and run in games, I felt there was something missing in the overall prediction of a 5th, or possibly even 4th.
Some weeks ago, I would have been in strong agreement with that prediction. However, there seemed to be something missing in this very-well written article, which has changed my equilibrium of thinking in favour of a top four finish.
In addition to the five players selected as shining lights, I strongly believe that we can add another 12 players capable of shining in these vital eight games, as well as remaining FA Cup fixture(s).
Those 12 players are…
Winston Reid – One of the finest centre back in the business, returning to first team action just at the right time.
Angelo Ogbonna – Seems to improve with every game, solid and stable on the ball, accurate passer, and superb in the air; how fortunate we were to gain such a classy partner for Reid, Collins, or Tomkins.
Cheikhou Kouyate – one of our very best; versatile, best suited moving up as an attacking midfielder. He is a fabulous sight, when charging through the area between midfield and attack, creating chances for fellow players, and a capable goalscorer, when the mood takes him.
Alex Song – Unfairly perceived as a player who may not go the distance. Hit by a terrible six month injury, he showed his class upon his return against Manchester City. He can play as a defensive and/or central midfielder. Now that he has recovered from his ankle injury, he has regained the strength and stability which we all admired; one of the most accurate passers of a ball, he can combine very well with Noble & Kouyate.
Diafra Sakho – Perhaps our best striker, who was in great from in our last game against Chelsea. Determined, very difficult to shake off the ball, and, when fit, will do the business.
Enner Valencia – Another player returning to peak fitness, he looked very sharp for Ecuador in their recent 2-2 World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, scoring a goal in the process. Blessed with speed and acceleration; probably the player with the hardest shot in the squad. Together with Sakho, it may be the combination to take us into the top four.
Victor Moses – For half of the season he was dominant on either wing. Extremely fast, I have no doubt that he will make critical contributions in the last eight games.
Pedro Obiang – Another player who continues to shine. An important part of the midfield.
James Collins & James Tomkins – Both due to return on April 2. Under the encouragement of Slav, Collins has played superbly in the centre of the defence. Count on these guys when the going gets tough.
Emmanuel Emenike & Andy Carroll – Both capable of goalscoring, albeit under different circumstances. Emenike, has recently joined us on loan but showed his potential with a fine brace against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup. By contrast, Andy is considered to be almost unstoppable in aerial duels, but has been plagued by a series of injuries which have limited his game time.
With the Crystal Palace game in sight, we begin the final run-in of what has been a brilliant season. If we play like we did in the first half against Chelsea, we just gatecrash the top four; anything is possible!