It’s crunch time for our team as our relegation battle reaches a climax, but will we survive? Only time will tell of course, but one thing is certain: we are going to have a few ups and downs along the way.
Looking forward, we have quite a few challenging fixtures ahead but will playing at home be an advantage? And what of our away fixtures? The majority are somewhat winnable on paper but we all know what this season has been like.
It has been one where consistency, other than in European competition, has been lacking. It’s fair to say that our away form in the Premier League has been pretty dire.
Up to the end of March, we’ve played 13 games on the road winning just one at Aston Villa way back in August and drawing three against Southampton, Leeds and recently Newcastle. We’ve lost nine. That all equates to just six points out of an available 39. That’s a percentage total of just 15.
We have just six away games left this season, and five could be winnable. We have Fulham, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Brentford and Leicester to play away from London Stadium.
That’s a total of 18 points to play for, but if we continue with just achieving a 15% results total that would just amount to three points. Surely we won’t be that bad, will we? If we look at last season’s results against those teams, it doesn’t make good reading.
Of the teams we actually played last season, we got a win against Palace, a draw against Leicester but we lost to Citie and Brentford. As for our record away against Fulham, we have not won in the last five games against them and as for Bournemouth, we have not won on the south coast in our last four meetings.
Add to the fact that three of the six are also battling relegation and it’s going to be tough. It feels like we cannot rely on our away fixtures to give us the 15 points we need to take us to that magical 40 points target which would mean our last two games would be meaningless.
So what of our home games? Now they look tough but isn’t it a West Ham thing that we raise our game against the bigger teams. But is that really true? At home we take on Newcastle, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Leeds.
Let’s start with title-chasing Arsenal. We have only beaten the Gunners once at the London Stadium. That was in 2019. As for United, it’s slightly better in that we have won twice in eight outings but not since 2019 have we won in the league.
Turning to Liverpool, a team that is having a really rocky season. We have won quite recently against Liverpool back in 2021 but that was our only win against them at the London Stadium. It’s beginning to feel that we may raise our performance against the bigger clubs but sadly the overall result, the final score, doesn’t show it.
And there is a further factor that we cannot get away from, and that is we no longer play at the Boleyn Ground with its tight stands close to the pitch. We now play in an athletics stadium which doesn’t have that intimidating feel for visiting clubs.
The London Stadium can be rocking at times, Seville immediately comes to mind, but often it feels soulless. At the Boleyn, it was full of diehards and we stayed until the end, forcing the team on.
Often at the London Stadium, when the performance is poor, the lines for the concession stands take more importance rather than seeing the last 10 minutes of the first half. And the stadium empties quicker than my wallet when the heating bill has to be paid when the team is losing and there’s still 10 minutes to go.
I’m not criticising the newbies but by almost doubling the home attendance, it has resulted in a dilution of the fan who stays to the end regardless of performance or result and that’s a worry with those up and coming games. It almost feels as if we would have a better chance of picking up points if those home and away games were reversed.
Imagine if that was the case? We could certainly have a chance of beating those away teams we have to face if it was at home. As for those big teams away from home with a maximum number of away fans in attendance, and we always sell out our away allocation, we could pick up points from those too.
But swapping home and away around is not an option, and we are stuck with what we have got. It’s going to be tough. I fear though that we are in free fall. Fifteen points are what I feel is necessary and it’s tough to see where they will come from.
The supporters have a part to play. Our away support doesn’t need to be questioned, but what we need is the day trippers to help the diehards to make the London Stadium a fortress. Not wishing to go over old ground but if we were at the Boleyn, I would feel more confident but I worry that the move to the London Stadium will come to bite us and bite us hard.
Still I did love our last season in the Championship, especially our away days but a drop to that division will be a challenge to the new fanbase. Our remaining games are a challenge and I feel our destiny just might rest with our away games. Games we need to see a real change of fortune in to secure our Premier League survival.