If you told West Ham fans in August that they’d be sat in sixth position in January, just four points off a Champions League spot, and closer to the top of the league than Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea, they’d probably tell you to put the drink down, get off the unicorn, and go home. But, with more than half of the season under our belts that is indeed where West Ham sit – and Slaven Bilic’s men have taken a staggering 16 points from a possible 18 after matches with Arsenal (A), Manchester City (A), Manchester United (A), Liverpool (H & A) and Chelsea (H).
Yet should it be even better for West Ham fans? They’re only nine points off the top of the table yet have picked up just four points from a possible 18 after matches against Aston Villa (A), Sunderland (A), Swansea (A), Newcastle (A), Norwich (H) and Bournemouth (H).
When West Ham are on form against the top sides, they really are difficult to stop. These aren’t wins born out of good fortune. Home and away against Liverpool they had 15 shots on target over 180 minutes, limiting the Reds to just three attempts on target – including a Dejan Lovren effort from more than 30 yards out. Against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium it was a different game-plan completely as they were outplayed for the majority of the game, but still managed to score two goals from just six shots at Joe Hart’s goal.
The Hammers have been deadlier than a wet fart in white pants against the six heavy hitters in the above image. From just 65 shots they’ve scored 11 goals, giving them a conversion rate of 16.9 per cent. Their opponents on the other hand have had a combined 115 shots and scored just twice (Gary Cahill for Chelsea and Kevin De Bruyne for Man City) giving them a conversion rate of just 1.7 per cent.
Is it luck? If it was a one-off game you could argue a case for fortune, but over six matches this season we’d be tempted to lean towards an argument of a well-managed, well-drilled team set up to null out the opposition and hit them with deadly counter attacks. Something West Ham clearly have to change against weaker sides who aren’t going to come at them with the same kind of heavy artillery Man City and Arsenal possess.
What makes us think West Ham are value to get something out of the game against Manchester City at Upton Park? Our traders obviously think we’re mad as they have the Hammers at a huge price of , while Manchester City are shots and the draw is . Yet consider this little stat to blow your mind ahead of the weekend – Manchester City haven’t beaten a top seven side this season. In six matches against the current top seven they’ve lost to Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Stoke, while drawing 0-0 with both Leicester and Manchester United.
There’s enough evidence to believe that West Ham are going to frustrate City at Upton Park, with the aim of hitting them on rapid-fire counter attacks, and that has us more than tempted to take a spin on West Ham to win 1-0 at odds of .