Analysis: An historic December for the Hammers

Felipe Anderson and Chicharito celebrate at Newcastle United


December 2018 may have ended on a negative note, but it was an historic month for West Ham United.

Never before had the Hammers collected as many Premier League points in a single calendar month as the 15 they amassed in the final 31 days of this rapidly disappearing year.

In 224 previous months of competing in the top flight since August 1993, West Ham had not mustered the same return, putting the recent achievements of Manuel Pellegrini’s side into stark perspective.

Over the course of December, West Ham travelled the length of the country, winning at Newcastle United and Southampton, closer to home at Fulham and at home to both Cardiff City and Crystal Palace.

There were slips prior to both Christmas and the New Year, at home to Watford and on the road at Burnley respectively, overall the story was a positive one.

With his squad affected by injuries and illnesses, Pellegrini used his full squad, with goalkeeper Adrian the only fit first-term player not to get onto the pitch.0

Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop, Declan Rice, Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass started all seven matches, while Mark Noble started six and Michail Antonio and Chicharito were in the team for five.


Declan Rice was in fine form throughout December


In total, 20 different players appeared for the Hammers in December, with Jack Wilshere and Xande Silva each appearing just once as substitutes.

While every one of those 20 contributed to the club’s record-breaking December, the stars of the show were Felipe Anderson, Declan Rice, Snodgrass, Chicharito and Fabianski.

The Brazilian winger scored four of the Irons’ 13 goals, highlighting a series of outstanding individual performances on the left with vital winners against Crystal Palace and Southampton.

On the other flank, Snodgrass continued his Claret and Blue renaissance by setting up three goals in the wins at Newcastle and home to Cardiff, before breaking his Premier League duck for the club with the opening goals in the victories over Palace and Fulham.

Midway through the month, in fact, Sky Sports rated the Scotland star as the most in-form player in the entire Premier League.

Up front, Mexico striker Chicharito returned to fitness and form at the start of the month, finding the net twice at St James’ Park and again with a typically predatory strike against the Eagles at London Stadium, only to be ruled out again by a hamstring strain suffered in the home defeat by Watford just before Christmas.


Lukasz Fabianski saves a penalty from Cardiff City's Joe Ralls


At the other end of the pitch, Poland goalkeeper Fabianski continued his superb start to life in east London with two clean sheets at Newcastle and Fulham, making vital saves in both matches before producing a truly heroic performance in the success at St Mary’s Stadium. In all, the No1 made 24 stops across the seven matches he played, including a vital penalty save from Cardiff's Joe Ralls when the game was still goalless.

And in front of him, Rice continued his progression by becoming the first teenager since Michael Carrick in May 2001 to reach 50 first-team appearances for West Ham before turning 20.

All in all, December was a hugely positive month for the Irons, who more than doubled their Premier League points tally for the campaign in the space of 26 days.

With no more than four top-flight matches scheduled for any month over the remainder of the season, that 15-point haul will not be bettered in 2018/19, so let us look back and enjoy the Hammers’ historic achievements.