It’s been a disastrous few months for West Ham United. Even our co-chairman, David Gold, has admitted on Twitter that we were at “a low point” in our history and that we face a “tough battle” to stay in the Premier League.
There’s no doubt that our game against Swansea is enormously important, and it’s crucial that we don’t get beaten. However, as I pointed out in the last edition of Blowing Bubbles, there’s still time to go, and a look at the bottom of the Premier League table shows how close things actually are. So what does February hold for us? It’s obvious that this set of games will define the rest of our season. If our form over recent matches continues through the next few fixtures then we might as well start planning for life in the Championship again now.
We face a number of games against teams not too far away from our league position in the next few weeks and so we need to pick up points against them, and stop them from getting away from us. After our game against Swansea, we face an away trip to Aston Villa. They might look reasonably comfortable in midtable but I have a strong suspicion that they will be nervously looking over their shoulders, hovering only a handful of points above the relegation zone.
Their form has been a bit shaky of late, with only one win in eight (coming at Sunderland) and they also had a catastrophic December, claiming only one point from 15. They are also massively inconsistent. On this basis, it’s a winnable fixture – but we’ve said that about us quite a few times over the last few matches.
One thing’s for sure, it should be an interesting contest, and you would hope that with some of our injured players returning we might have enough in the team to secure a point at least. There then follow two home matches in succession, starting with a hugely important game against Norwich City. They’re in a similar position to Aston Villa in the table, and after a poor run of form the natives have been extremely restless about the manager Chris Hughton. Recent, more positive results have silenced the naysayers – for now
This is a match that we need to win, because Norwich could quickly get away from us and a positive result for us would drag them back into the mire. We did have a good result at home against them last season and a repeat of that 2-1 victory would be extremely welcome again. Well, any sort of victory would, to be honest. Finally, there’s a home match against high-flying Southampton. They’re likely to survive comfortably, having had a great start to the season – although the wheels have somewhat come off of late, with only two wins from the last ten. It’s difficult to predict the outcome of this one because it largely depends on which West Ham team turns up. If it’s the abject one that arrived for the first half against Newcastle, we can forget it. But play to our potential – and actually convert chances – and we do have enough to win this one.
In short, February is going to be a key month. With no matches against the so-called big boys, and games against teams near-enough to us in the table, wins will be crucial in order to go some way to safeguarding our Premier League status for another season. Fail to perform, however, and things will look particularly bleak.