Monday 1 February 2016

It's Time to Ditch the Faux Modesty Slaven

And so, with the transfer window closed, now it's down to the business half of the season. The lack of engagement in the madness that is the window is a marker of where West Ham are as a club. Byram was a decent (and much needed) acquisition, while Emenike is a punt but otherwise we have a strong squad that should bloom with the imminent returns of Carroll, Sakho and Lanzini.

Time to fly fly fly!
In a recent interview, Slaven Bilic again played down our European prospects suggesting that “We don’t have Champions League ambitions, we are very far away from that". However, we are just two wins off fourth spot and deserved well in the running for a champions League spot. If Liverpool or Spurs or even Man United had our current squad they would surely expect to qualify for Europe!

As such, we need to push on now. One wonders if speculating on a poacher (Charlie Austin went to Southampton for peanuts) might have given us that extra bite needed to really pressurise Spurs (and probably Leicester) as the season unfolds. Clearly Slaven feels we have enough up top and if Carroll and Sakho stay fit their combined efforts should bring enough goals to put us into contention, especially if Payet, Lanzini and Antonio chip in with goals from midfield.

Either way, tonight's game is a must win. In contrast to us, Villa needed a big transfer window but Remi Garde could not attract the 3-4 big signings that their relegation battle needs. They have multiple absences for this evening's trip and will probably be happy with a draw. Luckily, we have the ultimate lockpicker in Mr Payet who may well be a key influence this evening. We managed only a point when we met a few weeks back and really need to get four points over the two encounters if we are to realise top six pretentions.

However, after a good run we have stuttered of late, losing a game we should have drawn (Newcastle), drawing a game we should have won (Man City) and drawing a game we deserved to lose (Liverpool). With Noble and Kouyate back in the centre, we wont concede midfield the way we did at Anfield. Hopefully Enner Valencia will have sorted out his studs and stop falling over the way he did against Liverpool. It would be interesting to get a glimpse of Emenike as well.

Ten points from safety with games rapidly running out, perhaps the best thing we can do for Villa is show them the league table at the same point during our great escape year to emphasise how anything is possible!

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