New Year games are key

Big Sam’s squad have certainly performed beyond the hopes of any realistic West Ham fan and are beginning to resemble something along the lines of a Premiership outfit.

Big Sam’s squad have certainly performed beyond the hopes of any realistic West Ham fan and are beginning to resemble something along the lines of a Premiership outfit.

Sharp defensively, and proving tough to beat through organisation and physical presence are what have enabled us to establish a comfortable top-half position. That mettle and organisation is however, about to come under the microscope as we rack up a tough line of fixtures. Anyone thinking the imperious task of survival has already been achieved is sadly mistaken, and with the already mentioned treacherous fixture list to finish 2012 and just 15 points already in the bank – there is substance behind any cause for concern.

38 points (37.6) is the average tally achieved by the side finishing in 17th position in the past ten seasons in the top flight, and if West Ham struggle to pick up more than just a handful of points before the new year, that target could seem a long way away. Debate over our difficult run of upcoming games has already been exhausted, but just how many points do you see us with come the end of the season?

For me, the crucial period for the Hammers this term will be January/February. With games against, Norwich(H), Sunderland(A), QPR(H), Fulham(A), Swansea(H), Villa(A) and Spurs(H), that run could well define the success of this season.

I see us around the 20 point mark come our Boxing Day clash with Arsenal, then if able to surpass 30 by the end of February we’ll then be in a great position to kick on and comfortably see off the prospect of relegation. Home form as ever, will be crucial, and games against Norwich, QPR and Swansea must be earmarked as great chances to secure all three points. Our away form has been patchy but what is of note is that we have proved very difficult to break down.

A number of away days still to come include sides that are merely jostling for a mid-table position, and with little on the line in terms of pushing for a European place or being in and amongst a relegation battle – sides are left vulnerable given the fact they have little to play for.

We have laid down some fantastic foundations with our efforts so far in our return to the Premiership, and great encouragement must be taken from our recent performance when welcoming Manchester City down to the Boleyn. It would however, be foolish to think the job in terms of survival is complete.

Games where we’ll pick up points:

Stoke (h) 3pts • Wes Brom (a) 1pt • Everton (h) 1pt • Reading (a) 1pt • Norwich (h) 3pts • Sunderland (a) 1pt • QPR (h) 3pts • Swansea (h) 3pts • West Brom (h) 1pt • Southampton (a) 1pt • Wigan (h) 3pts • Newcastle (h) 1pt • Reading (h) 3pts

Projected total points (prior to Newcastle away) – 40pts

Only one side in the previous 14 years of the Premiership has been relegated with at least 40 points – but we won’t mention who that was!

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