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The race for London's top spot: how West Ham could capitalise on their struggling neighbours' woes

West Ham
(Image credit: PA)

David Moyes and his squad are without a doubt the story of the Premier League season - so far. West Ham have put together a magical run of form since the new year, taking 19 of a possible 24 points – only dropping points to defending champions Liverpool and London rivals Fulham. 

The Irons have already surpassed their point total from last season, with David Moyes asking after the Sheffield United match: “Is that us safe now? Usually 40 points is safety”. The Hammers won’t have to worry about relegation this year and they look like a team that has no intentions of slowing down in their fight for a European spot. 

West Ham’s best finish in the Premier League era was 1998/99, where they finished fifth with 57 points. The Irons are currently on course to break the 60-point barrier this season – and in doing so they will find themselves battling for London supremacy. 

Having never finished as the top Premier League club in London, the players and supporters alike will be keen on shaking that “underdog” status they have been branded with, though will be aware that topping London “powerhouses” Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal will be no easy task, despite the others' troubles. There is obviously quite a bit of football still to be played and given they have taken just nine points from the seven matches played against fellow London clubs this season, this weekend’s clash with Spurs will be all that more meaningful. 

The Irons look a whole new outfit, thanks to new signings Saïd Benrahma, Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and loanee Jesse Lingard. They have been dominant in the air this season, leading the league in goals from set pieces, with Soucek being a key threat. They have been good value on the counter attack since the arrival of Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United loanee has helped link the midfield to the front and has provided the Irons with an outlet to break pressure and transition the play up the field. 

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Their defensive system has also been impressive recently. Moyes has his team well-drilled and holding a strong defensive shape when under pressure, no matter what combination of players are on the field. They tend to sit in a low-block most of the time and pick and choose their moments to attack but now the Irons have enough quality in the midfield and up-front to transition up the field successfully whenever they win the ball. 

Despite all the quality we have seen from West Ham this season, there have been some indications of where late-season struggles might come from. Some matches, such as the Fulham one in January, have seen the attackers look seem of sync with each other and the rest of the team, and for a side that doesn’t tend to dominate possession, this could prove costly against higher-quality teams. The attack could be under more pressure to provide goals in lieu of recent injury to centre-back Angelo Ogbonna. 

But billing as the capital's top team remains a realistic, if difficult, prospect. In the remaining 14 matches West Ham will face seven teams in the top half of the table, including five against 'Big Six' opposition. Of those, three will come against London rivals Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea.

The good news for West Ham supporters is that they finish the season with a run against bottom-half sides Brighton, West Brom and Southampton. David Moyes will certainly feel his side are capable of achieving a European Cup spot, finishing as the top club in London and making West Ham history in doing so. The London Stadium deserves a European night where the bubbles are blowing.

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