Something strange is happening in East London. West Ham United has become the David of the Premier League, slaying giants on their home patches and showing a complete disregard for reputations and price tags.
The Hammers latest away victory, a 2-1 win at league leaders Manchester City on Saturday, is the latest in what is becoming a very healthy habit of winning at grounds where in previous seasons they may have went down meekly.
The side from East London became only the second team in the Premier League era to have won at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the same season.
The only other team to achieve that feat was Chelsea, who went on to win the Premier League title in 2006.
West Ham have played just three games away from home this season, winning 2-0 at Arsenal in the opening game of the campaign and last time out on their travels, prior to the City game claiming a 3-0 victory at Liverpool.
The Hammers have made a mockery of what looked like a very difficult first six Premier League games of the season to claim four wins in the Premier League from their first six top-flight games this season.
It seems playing away from home suits the Hammers style better than playing at home, as Slaven Bilic’s team has lost two of their three league games at the Boleyn Ground this season, which by all accounts is ‘typical West Ham’ according to more pessimistic Hammers fans.
The last few seasons under Sam Allardyce West Ham have been functional to put it nicely. Harsher critics of Big Sam’s style would maybe describe their style as dull, long-ball and damn right awful.
A new season and a new boss have brought a more positive approach from the Hammers. All of a sudden West Ham fans are enjoying watching their team play, which in recent seasons has not been the case.
New boss Slaven Bilic has to be accredited with the change of mind-set. The former-Hammers centre-back arrived as a cult hero from his short time playing at the Boleyn Ground. His managerial career had produced mixed results, in both international and club football.
However, he has introduced a positivity and belief into a squad that looked flat under Allardyce. The signings of the likes of Dimitri Payet, Victor Moses and Manuel Lanzini have proven to be successes so far as well.
Payet has been one of the most creative players in the top five European leagues over the last few seasons. It is hardly surprising that he has made a successful start to his Hammers career.
What maybe is a surprise is that he has taken so long to move away from Ligue One and arrives in the Premier League at 28 years-old. Payet is the sort of special player that makes a team tick. The Frenchman’s intelligence is vital to how West Ham plays.
Even the most ardent West Ham fan would admit that Manchester City dominated the second half of Saturday’s game. The Citizens had more possession and shots on goal. The Hammers defended solidly and the West Ham penalty box was like the Alamo at times.
Bilic’s team did get a slice of luck, but they deserved that for their sheer grit and determination, also for their positive approach to the game.
It was difficult to know what to expect from West Ham at the start of the campaign. The Hammers made a good start to last season, but as their Christmas dinner disappeared, so did their form and gradually they slipped down the table to finish 12th.
The West Ham board have backed Bilic in the transfer market and the Croatian seems to have made some shrewd signings this summer. Owners David Gold and David Sullivan are ambitious about the clubs future and the team are showing signs of improvement.
West Ham are producing some really positive football at the moment and if they continue in a similar vein of form could threaten the top six, which they are currently odds of 9/1 to achieve this season.
Hammers fans will not be getting carried away just yet, but their team has already upset the odds this season. Whatever happens this season, at least their team are attempting to be positive and that seems that is all their fans ask for, a bit of positivity.
What would be regarded as success this season for West Ham?
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