Performances over the next month, when West Ham play upwards of nine matches, will determine the success of the 2020-21 season.
Many West Hams fans will have bitten your hand off to be in the position West Ham are in at this point of the season. The Hammers have accumulated 26 points through the first 17 matches of the season, the most at this point of the campaign since the 2014-15 season (31 points).
But as that season, among others, have shown, a poor run of form as the calendar turns can turn supporters’ hopes of European matches into fans who are uninspired during the months of April and May. West Ham are currently in two competitions, the successes of which will be determined by the performances over the next month
West Ham travel to the Greater Manchester area to take on fifth-tier Stockport County on the 11th of January in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. West Ham have advanced to the 4th Round of the prestigious cup competition in each of the last four seasons and they should do so comfortably this year as well.
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If West Ham were to lose to a non-league side, it would be a huge blow to what is, so far, a very good season. All West Ham fans want something to be excited about, and a FA Cup can get any fanbase dreaming of glory. If West Ham were to lose to Stockport, this season would already have a grey cloud over it.
Assuming the Hammers can get it done at Edgeley Park, a 4th Round FA Cup match would occur during the last week of January. While a FA Cup run can be assisted or easily haltered by the draw, West Ham fans will be hopeful of a kind draw and the chance to move into the next round.
Either way, West Ham fans will believe their club could beat anyone, even if it is one of the “Big 6”. If West Ham could win two FA Cup matches over the next few weeks, West Ham would be one of the final 16 clubs in the competition, giving fans the hope of winning a major trophy.
While West Ham currently sit in 10th place, they are only three points behind 4th-place Tottenham. While I’m not saying West Ham will be contending for the Champions League, Hammers fans certainly have hope that their club can contend for 7th place and Europa League football.
But the next month of Premier League fixtures will most likely determine if that hope will remain through May, or if supporters will be uninspired before April even begins. Let’s take a few examples of seasons where West Ham teams had similar point totals to this year’s team.
In 2014-15, West Ham actually had more points through 17 matches than this year’s team does, with 31 points. But over the next seven matches, West Ham added only six points and would only finish with 47 points on the season, finishing 12th and out of European contention with a couple of months left to play.
In 2018-19, Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in charge, West Ham had 24 points through 17 matches. West Ham had won four matches in a row in December of 2018 and were looking to make a Europa League push as the calendar turned to 2019. But only seven points were accumulated over the next seven matchups and West Ham finished 10th with 52 points.
Now, let’s take the magical 2015-16 team (finished with 62 points). That team actually had fewer points (25 points) through 17 matches than this year’s team does.
However, the next seven matches saw many memorable results. West Ham accrued 14 points over the next 7 matches as the last season at the Boleyn hit the midway point. West Ham eventually finished 7th and qualified for the Europa League.
The Importance of the Next Month
West Ham have the opportunity to win a pair of FA Cup matches during the month of January and making the Round of 16. Furthermore, the Hammers certainly are in the hunt for a Europa League spot and face teams that are at or below them in the table, including Burnley, West Brom, Crystal Palace, and Fulham.
A push for Europa League football this season, along with a nice FA Cup run, could provide a memorable season during these tough times. And as you can see, West Ham teams of old have either faded as the calendar turns, leading to routine mid-table play, or have kicked on, challenging for the right to play on European nights.
Whatever type of season this one will be will most likely be determined by the performances over the next month.