Those of us of a certain age will remember the old football saying of: ‘West Ham go down like the Christmas decorations’.
This correlation stems back to the 1975-76 season where we had topped the table after 15 games but then had a spectacular fall from grace gaining just 14 points from the remaining 27 games and finishing in 18th place.
Luckily in those days there were 22 teams in the league so at least we were safe from relegation. But what of this year? It seems that the festive season could be a real indicator of just where we will end up come May 2020.
It’s a bit of an odd festive season for us and there seems unusually to be a lack of games before that mad rush when all the bank holidays hit.
The postponement of the Liverpool game could be a double edged sword. If we suddenly go on a run at the start of December it could crush momentum but if we continue to haemorrhage goals and points it could be seen as a time to regroup.
It may be an opportunity to bring our walking wounded back into the frame and of course the transfer window will be open. It’s a confusing time at West Ham so let’s see who we will be playing over those few weeks.
Well up first before that free weekend is our visit to St Mary’s to take on Southampton.
The team from the south coast had failed to win in their first six home games and during that time they received a real drubbing from Leicester.
They need to turn their season around quickly or relegation could beckon. The form guide for our visits doesn’t offer much help.
Of our 11 visits to St Mary’s, we have won three, drawn four and lost four, a real mixed bag.
When the game takes place Southampton will have come off some winnable games and we will have just completed a really tough schedule.
Will Southampton have the momentum or be in free fall? I can only see a point here but we won last season so this could be the game to move things forward.
After all the turkey and cranberry sauce it’s back to a rush of games and the first one is the annual Boxing Day away fixture this time against Crystal Palace.
Palace are a really mixed bag, we should have beaten them at the London Stadium but instead imploded allowing Zaha to have his say.
This should be pay back time. But it does seem that all that Christmas pudding and turkey weigh heavy on our players as we haven’t won on Boxing Day since 2010 and during that time we even lost to lowly Swansea 4-1 and thus the omens are not good.
As for Palace they are having their usual season flirting with relegation, I see only a draw again out of this one.
Finally just before the end of the year we get a home tie, the only problem is that it is against high flying Leicester City.
Brendan Rodgers really has got the Foxes on the move and they have certainly progressed this season. There were three teams at the end of last season where it looked as if they could challenge for that top six spot, Leicester were one of those as was Everton and West Ham. We need to be in great form to get anything out of this one.
Just like buses, you wait for one to come along and two appear as just three days after the Foxes we entertain Bournemouth on New Year’s Day.
We have a pretty good record for ties held over the 1st and 2nd January and this could be our first real opportunity to pick up maximum points.
We do struggle when we play Bournemouth so don’t expect a goal fest but a win at the start of the year would be a real boost.
After the Cherries we have the third round tie in the FA cup after which we return to the league with a Friday night fixture up in Yorkshire and our friendly rivalry with the Blades.
Now this is going to be a tricky one Sheffield United has surprised many and are really holding their own in the Premier League but could our visit be the start of a slide similar to that if their near neighbours Bradford a few years ago?
The television companies clearly see this as a feisty tie hence why it is live on television. The game though has, in my eyes, score draw all over it .
So that’s it a month of our season, and with the horrendous fixture list during the end of November and beginning of December a thing of the past, it looks like five games of which, all bar Leicester, seem winnable.
I’m never great at predictions but six points should be the minimum target. But this is West Ham and we all know we can be summed up in one word: unpredictable.
One thing though is clear that run of fixtures could define our season.
Will we motor on or be looking down the barrel of relegation? Well this is West Ham so your guess is as good as mine. One thing though is certain it’s going to be a real roller coaster.