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Chris Wilkerson, London24 West Ham blogger
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Can we really target a European place?
"It is not often, in recent years, that we have looked towards a game against Liverpool and expected a win"
We’re not supposed beat Chelsea 3-1 – that wasn’t meant to happen to West Ham fans anymore. But it did, and Sam Allardyce may just have won over those last remaining doubters with last weekend’s victory, one that seemed so improbable after the first 45 minutes.
Momo Diame and Matt Taylor came off the bench at half-time and transformed the game. We all know the rest, but after the giddy highs of that win, the fantastic results and performances we have picked up in this tough run of fixtures, just what, now, is a realistic finish in the Premier League this season?
The realists, or the pessimists, depending on your standpoint, would point to the fact we are a newly promoted side, have been decimated in games against Wigan, Swansea and Tottenham this term and that the teams around us in the table are more than decent sides.
The other side of the coin is that we destroyed Chelsea, took a point from Manchester City and were unlucky to come away with nothing from Old Trafford. Teams do not want to play us, and it is not often, in recent years, that we have looked towards a game against Liverpool (at home tomorrow) and expected a win.
Name: Chris Wilkerson
Twitter handle: @The_Wilkerson
Favourite player: Mark Noble or Winston Reid
Most memorable game: Playoff Final
Predicted finish: 12th
The poor form of the Reds, Arsenal and Newcastle also plays into our hands, maybe even Chelsea’s turmoil and travels to the World Club Cup and Europa League Thursdays will be a benefit. And with fixtures against West Brom and Everton in the next few weeks – both teams who now have similar ambitions to ours – a good tally of points could be a sign that we are more than just an early season form team.
Realistically, we are still only a point away from an Arsenal side that is full of quality. Those fans who think we can hit fourth and Champions League spot are in a dream world, and while I’m envious of such positivity, I cannot see us pulling off such an incredible feat.
It is the time of year that sorts the big guns from the chasing pack. Congested fixture lists stretch squads, injuries take their toll and rotation of quality players in bigger sides sees them through.
But with the Europa League places possibly stretching to the team that finishes seventh, after the cups are decided, can we prove ourselves in the top seven sides in the country?
If any manager can then it’s Sam. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll believe the hype when Liverpool, West Brom and Everton have faced the Claret and Blue Army. Who knows, perhaps by 2016 Barcelona could be visiting 60,000 fans in the Olympic Stadium.