Fan blogger Joe Difford looks at five things we've learned this season...
It might seem premature, but it is easy to forget that we are more or less a third of the way through the Premier League season. It seems just yesterday the claret and blue army were bringing the roof down at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day, but as we approach the busy winter period, here's a look at the five things us Hammers fans have learned so far this season.
We can beat anyone
If you looked at our fixture list before the season began, you’d be forgiven for being a tad frustrated at the opening game away to Arsenal. In fact, it has been difficult in recent years to be optimistic about any of the ‘big’ games, but this season has changed all of that. Wins away against the Gunners, Liverpool and Manchester City, and a home victory over the reigning champions Chelsea, show exactly what this new-look West Ham side are capable of.
Annoyingly, this confident mentality is one that has been adopted by many clubs who were expected to have a mediocre season, and they have apparently seen us as a big side and left with all three points. Despite this, for the first time in recent memory, every game is now winnable and the whole league knows it.
Dimitri Payet is a magician
Everyone knew that the signing of Dimitri Payet would be huge for the club, particularly when you look at his goal and assist record at Marseille from last season. However, no one quite expected him to set the league on fire as he has done.
Payet settled straight into Premier League life, oozing confidence and class, humiliating anyone who stood in his way. His elegance and swagger is unrivalled in the league, and he has netted goals and racked up assists for fun. Payet is well on his way to pick up the Hammer of the Year award, and if he can recover from the injury he sustained against Everton last Saturday, he could be in with a shout of picking up some league-wide awards.
Our squad depth is the best in years
The injury to Dimitri Payet is a tragedy, not just for the club, but for the neutral; anyone who enjoys the beautiful game. However, what his injury has done, is highlight the squad depth at Slaven Bilic’s disposal. Last season, the substitute bench was something you never really wanted to look at, as it was often made up of players lacking fitness and others drafted in from the development squad, who hadn’t ever played with the senior side.
This year though, the options available are quite remarkable, and there is not a single area of the field without suitable backup. We have tall strikers and pacey strikers, skilful wingers and ones who can score, box-to-box midfielders and tough, holding midfielders, the list goes on.
Slaven Bilic has rejuvenated the club
If you had asked a West Ham fan at the end of last season whether or not they were optimistic about life as a Hammers fan, you quite possibly would’ve been met with a half-hearted grunt, following by a forced “not really”.
Since Slaven Bilic has come in, the atmosphere around the club is electric, and fans do really feel as though this season, and the next ten, will be our seasons. Seeing our manager passionately patrolling the touchlines and working his magic brings a sense of pride for fans. Although it is only his first year managing in England, you get the feeling that Bilic is at home, and it certainly seems that way.
European football is a reality
Our qualification for the UEFA Europa League last season was poorly timed, but the move into the Olympic Stadium is supposed to usher in a new era of West Ham being in Europe. Just 12 games in however, and it is clear that this could well be a reality come May. We are competing with every other top side in the league and a win against Spurs after the international break could see us in fifth spot.
There is a long way to go, but we are already more than capable of bringing European football back to West Ham United.
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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United FC