With 2012 and the highs it brought our club finished, it begs the question: What does the next 12 months have in store for West Ham United Football Club?
A look ahead to key fixtures for the rest of the 2012/13 Premier League season is the key factor in answering this question and help to suggest where we can finish in the league and hopefully build on for next season. Our return to the top flight of English football has been a largely successful venture under Sam Allardyce and we look to have the strongest squad we’ve had in quite a few years.
We have only recently dropped out of the top half of the league and we’re still in the mix for a top half finish, but we must remain sure footed and remember that we are a newlypromoted side. A look at the other two teams promoted alongside us will show how well we have done to get this far but that our primary target must be to remain in the Premier League.
must surely bode well for us to achieve the 40 point mark that fans and pundits signal as safety territory. Once we gain this vantage point then we can look to higher placed finishes. A fantastic season for West Ham would be to finish around 12th in the league with no relegation threat, and after the first few months back in the league it would seem this is achievable but as the cliché goes you must never underestimate the Premiership of English football.
January sees us face a few clubs who we may pick up points against although they have recently come into form, the likes of Norwich and QPR who travel to East London are starting to look increasingly assured under Hughton and Redknapp and these will be tricky games. But they are ones that we can grab six points from in what will be a busy month along with the re-arranged away trip to Arsenal and visits to Sunderland and Fulham as well as the FA Cup home tie against Manchester United.
Many fans love a cup run, but with this rather difficult first fixture in the cup I would sacrifice the run for assured safety in the league and definitely for nine points in the month. February is a less congested month for the Hammers but with no easy games in the league. We are faced with home matches against Swansea and Tottenham with a trip to Aston Villa in between. Every side has their difficulties and it is difficult to pinpoint where we will get points from but I can see us doing the double over a young Villa side and possibly holding either Spurs or the Swans to a draw.
In March we face a lot of teams we have just recently come up against. We will take on the likes of Chelsea and Stoke away with home games against Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion. If we can pick up an upset like we did in the 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Upton Park and build on the recent performance against West Brom by netting a goal or two and taking three points from one or two of these games then I can see West Ham grabbing something from what pundits will describe as ‘a tough set of fixtures that the Hammers will be lucky to get anything from’
One particular game in April that catches the eye is the trip down to St. Mary’s to face Southampton. A lot of teams assert their position in the league with just five games to go and a win from our trip to the coast, provided we are in a good position, could see us achieve safety and I’ve pinpointed this as the game that hopefully makes the Hammers season, especially after we put them to the sword with an impressive 4-1 victory back in October.
The following weekend has Wigan visiting the Boleyn in what could well be another victory for Sam Allardyce’s side. The other two fixtures of the month are away trips to Liverpool first and at the end of April, Manchester City. Quite frankly we’ll be lucky to get anything out of these, especially with the latter likely to be challenging for the title at that time. Finally, the last month of our comeback season sees us face Newcastle, Everton and Reading, with the Magpies and the Royals heading to East London before and after a trip to Goodison Park.
Optimistic Irons fans will be hoping that safety is secured and we are looking at a top ten finish, but with very competitive teams in the Premier League it will be tough. However if we continue the form we have shown so far this season I can see no reason why come Sunday May 19, we are not in the top half of the English elite. Just to remind some fans of how far we have come in the last 12 months, a year ago we saw Ispwich put five past us and the Hammers grind out three unimpressive wins against Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth and Coventry.
Having said that those nine points helped us on our way to achieving promotion on that terrific day at Wembley that saw West Ham United Football Club achieve promotion back to the promised land of English football. That for me was my highlight of 2012, when the fans of this great club sung their hearts out as Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te scored two vitally important goals that delivered us back to the top flight and have seen us on our way to where we are today and the future of the football club, long may it remain in the best league in the world, so here’s to 2013.