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Top-six Possible If Not Probable For Hammers

Top-six Possible If Not Probable For Hammers

West Ham recorded a statement 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday and they must now be considered as top-six contenders. Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell helped West Ham to their most impressive win of the season to date and they are now unbeaten in six matches across all competitions since losing to Manchester City on the opening day.

The result also underlined the troubles surrounding Man United at the moment and they are not the only established top-six team struggling to find their feet this season, with Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea also looking some way off their best for a variety of different reasons.

That has left the door open for other sides to potentially gatecrash the top six, with Leicester and Everton having been mentioned in dispatches, although not many people were suggesting West Ham at the start of the season.

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However, Sunday’s victory, coupled with their strong start to the season as a whole, has got many people now touting the Hammers to break into the top-six. The east Londoners have not claimed a top-six berth since finishing fifth during the 1998-99 campaign and while they may still be considered outsiders to achieve that feat, it has now become a real possibility.

Certainly going forward the Hammers are a match for most teams in the division.
On Sunday Manuel Pellegrini started with Yarmolenko, Pablo Fornals, Felipe Anderson and Sebastian Haller as part of a four-pronged attack, while Manuel Lanzini is also a valid option in the final third, although he was injured for the 2-0 victory.

The problem the Hammers have is that if they do pick up more than one injury in the final third, then they have limited options to come in, with the likes of Robert Snodgrass and Albian Ajeti perhaps not being up to the same standard.

Defensively West Ham were impressive against United, with Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna marshalling the back four, while Lukasz Fabianski is arguably the best goalkeeper outside the top six. The Hammers have only conceded twice in the league since the opening day and the back four is protected well by defensive midfielders Declan Rice and Mark Noble.

However, there are still question marks regarding West Ham’s overall defending – let’s not forget they conceded 55 times in the league last season and they didn’t really improve their back-line over the summer.

Squad depth appears to be the main reason why West Ham may ultimately miss out on a top-six finish, but if they can keep the main components of their team fit over the course of the season, then it seems a fair assumption to make that they have a starting XI capable of challenging the likes of Arsenal and Man United on a regular basis.

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