Nine points, the closest gap between 20th and 9th position since the Premier League’s inception at this stage of the season, furthermore the gap between 17th and 9th is only six points. This shows what a close and equal league it has been this season, with several teams on the cusp of qualifying for Europe or being drawn into a relegation dogfight.
At Christmas, everyone had written West Ham off and it was a case of which other two teams would join them in the Championship next season, however, West Ham now sit 17th in the table and 4th in the form book over the last six games; only behind Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. This run of results that wouldn’t have been deemed possible under Avram Grant, a man whose job only a few months ago was said to be Martin O’Neill’s for the taking.
I feel the scrutiny, at the beginning of his tenure with West Ham, of Avram Grant, the man who just last season led Portsmouth to Wembley in the FA Cup, was harsh, especially when you consider the injuries he had to deal with, with the likes of Jack Collinson, Manuel Da Costa and Thomas Hitzlsperger all out for lengthy periods of time. They have all returned in recent weeks and have proven to be key players in the Hammers first eleven and survival bid.
Demba Ba, a player recommended by Steve McClaren who he felt would be worth more to a team than Edin Dzeko; and if you look at the facts so far, the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ got this one spot on. Demba Ba has added power, goals, but, most importantly, competition for places, with the likes of Carlton Cole and Frederick Piquonne appearing to up their games in recent weeks, especially Cole, who has been showing fans and critics alike why over the years clubs like Liverpool have been linked with the forward.
West Ham’s recent resurgence isn’t just down to Ba’s arrival; up step West Ham’s talisman and captain Scott Parker, whose passion, talent and influence was in abundance in West Ham’s recent recovery against West Brom. The Hammers were 3-0 down at half time but fought back to 3-3 and earnt a precious point; after the game numerous players credited Parker’s impressive morale boosting team talk at half time that helped ignite the Hammers recovery.
West Ham’s current Premier League position is, in my opinion, a ‘false one’. The spine of the West Ham team is a strong one, with the likes of Robert Green (ignore the World Cup, he is a good goalkeeper), Upson, Noble, Parker and now Ba; and in recent years the successful teams have demonstrated that a solid spine is crucial for the rest of the team to build upon, most evident through Chelsea’s quartet of Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba. I’m not saying West Ham will dominate the Premier League for years to come, but I do feel West Ham have the capabilities in their manager, squad and set-up to give the Olympic Stadium the glorious European nights such a fantastic venue deserves.