Fancied to win the Championship title for much of last season, West Ham ultimately had to fight their way through the play-offs to achieve promotion straight back to the Premier League.
The Hammers have made a good start to this campaign and currently occupy sixth place in the league after 11 games. They pulled off an impressive draw at home to high-flying champions Manchester City a fortnight ago, whilst last weekend their captain Kevin Nolan scored the only goal at St James’ Park to secure a valuable three points against his former club. Sitting above London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, pundits are now wondering what Sam Allardyce’s side should be aiming for this season.
Despite a couple of low points this season, including disappointing defeats at both Swansea and Wigan, West Ham have won half of their six home Premier League games, only losing when the Gunners visited Upton Park. At this moment in time, relegation is not an issue the club have to contend with. Take their foot off the gas, however, and the Hammers may find themselves in trouble, facing similar problems to those of when they went down in 2011.
Allardyce’s teams have long been known for their direct style of play, something which loan signing Andy Carroll is perfectly suited to. Signed by Liverpool for £35 million in January 2011, the big forward should help the Hammers’ chances, although he is yet to score a goal for the East London club. Apparently not figuring in Brendan Rodgers’ plans to bring a new brand of football to Anfield, the England striker was allowed to move to Upton Park in August on a season-long loan.
Aspirations of West Ham in Europe may be premature, but Big Sam will be doing whatever it takes to keep his side in the chase.