- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Chelsea and the notion of progress.
- Arsenal’s opposition in 2022/3: Tottenham Hotspur
- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Leicester City
- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Manchester United
Last summer the Guardian’s football writers suggested West Ham would finish 10th in the league. Sports Mole went for the same. They actually finished seventh just two points behind Manchester United.
This summer Betfair are running the headline “Premier League 2022-23 Predictions: West Ham and Newcastle to break ‘Big Six’ dominance”
And indeed for WHAM the fight in January last season was said to be on to get that top-four place, and that could be seen by the fact that they immediately lost to Southampton in the FA Cup, and Seville in the Europa. Of course, they did make their way through the rounds to the semi-finals in the Europa, but in the meanwhile, there were league matches to be won. Only West Ham seemed to forget this and only won three of their last 11 league games. They lost six and drew two.
Now they did have an excuse because those 11 fixtures included games against Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, which is a tough run-in, but then we are considering a club that has repeatedly been talked up as at least one of the top six.
And when we come to think of it, so they should be. They got their ground without having to pay for it, and still only pay £2.5m a year. What we must all do is hope that they don’t get relegated, in the next 90 something years since if they do, the rent is cut in half, and the taxpayer will once again with West Ham, pick up the tab. (That ground deal, by the way, was signed off by Boris).
But anyway, one win in the last seven is not that exciting and at least most pundits have stopped talking the club up as top four.
In fact West Ham came nearer to relegation than to second place last season, As did Manchester United. Indeed what the media don’t point out, because it spoils their prediction game, is that every team below Arsenal came closer to relegation than to second last season. Which perhaps suggests that rather than incessantly setting their fantasy makebelieve supercomputers to look at the top four, the media ought to consider the bottom three.
A few do consider next season’s relegation to be fair, and generally take the easy way out saying that the three promoted teams from last season, will all be relegated this coming season. That has happened but not since 1996/7 when Bolton, Barnsley and Palace all went down from the Premier League one season after having come up. So it is not impossible but seems a bit unlikely.
West Ham have bought three players: Nayef Aguerd for around £30m from Rennes, Flynn Downes, a midfielder from Swansea for £12m and Alphonse Areola an £8m keeper from PSG. So a rise up the table seems not quite something they are planning big time.
But their manager is the media’s favourite, so anything he does is usually talked up.
The reality for West Ham is that since their promotion to the Premier League their achievements have been modest…
Last season was their tenth in the current run in the top league and they finished seventh. One worse than the season before. In fact, it was only the third time in those ten years that they have finished in the top nine, all the rest ranging between 10th and 16th. It is going to take some extraordinary developments (not normally seen when a club is up for sale) to get them higher than seventh.
The last we heard of WHAM being taken over was with the Daily Mail headline, “West Ham in £400m takeover bid with investment group wanting to hand David Moyes significant transfer funds and transform London Stadium… but opening offer is rejected by majority shareholder David Sullivan” back in July last year. Since then nothing serious (and we don’t know if that bid was serious, or even real).
So West Ham coming above Arsenal; West Ham breaking into the top four? No. Getting into the top six? Well, if someone in the current top six has a chronic season, maybe, but it seems unlikely.
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