West Ham United have moved into the top four at the 25-game mark for the first time since the 1985-86 season after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at the London Stadium on Sunday. With almost two-thirds of the season over, they are sitting above heavyweights Chelsea and Liverpool, having played the same number of games.
The fight for a top-four finsh is turning out to be quite an intriguing one this season, as Manchester United in 2nd position and Everton at 7th are separated by just 9 points. Every team in between the two sides have a good chance to qualify for Champions League.
While it is still early to make any premature predictions on West Ham United's success this season, it is vital to assess the reason behind this rejuvenated side. After careful consideration, it is safe to say the catalyst behind their fortunes is their manager - David Moyes.
West Ham were languishing just above the relegation places in the Premier league table in December last season under Manuel Pellegrini. David Moyes was recalled to steady the ship midway through the season, a miracle he had already achieved in the 2018 season during a short 6-month project.
The team's fortunes didn't improve too much in 2018 and they barely survived the drop, finishing the season with just 39 points.
Fast forward to this season, they have already achieved 6 points more than they achieved during the entire course of their previous campaign. At the same stage last season, West Ham were in 18th place, having earned just 24 points. The cause for this dramatic turnaround can be attributed to the astute signings and tactics deployed by the manager.
West Ham have lost just 6 matches this season, 1 less than champions Liverpool. This feat has been built around a base of defensive solidity, reinforced by the signing of experienced defender Craig Dawson from Watford on loan.
Since signing Dawson, West Ham have lost just once, against Liverpool. The defender has formed a formidable partnership with Angelo Ogbonna. 28-year-old, Vladimir Coufal, who was signed from Slavia Prague for £5.4 million, has also proven to be an able replacement for Pablo Zabaleta.
In midfield, Tomas Soucek is turning out to be the signing of the season, and Moyes secured him for a thrifty sum of just around £15 million. An energetic and physical box-to-box midfielder, Soucek has already contributed 8 Premier League goals this season.
Declan Rice has also shown his leadership, having taken the armband in the absence of the evergreen Mark Noble. Rice is the perfect shield in midfield to West Ham's defence.
The attacking spark in the team has been provided by Pablo Fornals and wingmen Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma, all of whom are Moyes signings.
One-time West Ham record signing Felipe Anderson was sent to Porto on loan to regain his confidence, which shows Moyes is not afraid to show his players some tough love.
This was also evident when he sold his only out-and-out striker, Sebastien Haller, to Ajax at a substantial loss, and trusted converted striker Michail Antonio. Antonio has repaid his manager's faith with a handsome return of 6 goals, most of which have been vital in securing the wins.
The missing piece in the jigsaw was acquired in the form of Jesse Lingard from Manchester United on a loan deal. Lingard has injected a much-needed intensity and creativity to the West Ham United frontline. He has already scored 3 goals in 4 Premier League appearances and has been vital in solving West ham's struggles in front of goal.
The success of this West Ham United team is, undoubtedly a result of the hard work and improved performances of the players. However, in the end, the credit must go to the tactical brilliance of David Moyes.
There team had potential, but it was Moyes who turned the bit parts into a well-oiled machine, and the Hammers are now reaping the rewards. While underdog stories like Leicester City's title triumph are unlikely in the increasingly competitive Premier League, qualification to the Champions League for teams like West Ham are definitely a cause for celebration.
While meaning no disrespect to Guardiola, whose Manchester City seem destined to run away with the Premier League crown, David Moyes should be a strong contender for the manager of the season if West Ham does qualify for the Champions League this year.
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