A Premier League season is played out over 38 games, of course, but West Ham United’s form over their last dozen matches has been very encouraging, both literally and figuratively.
After losing at Watford and Everton in his first three games in charge, manager David Moyes challenged his players to cut out individual mistakes, take greater individual responsibility and work harder for the team - and they have certainly responded.
Since being edged out late on at runaway leaders Manchester City, the Hammers have collected 20 points from their last 12 top-flight fixtures, a record which would place them sixth in the table if the season had started on Saturday 9 December.
Only leaders Manchester City, with 29 points, Tottenham Hotspur (27), Liverpool (25), Chelsea and Manchester United (both 21) have amassed more over the same period, and those five clubs currently occupy the top five places.
That day, Moyes’ side kicked-off their impressive run by beating champions Chelsea 1-0 at London Stadium – one of five victories they have recorded since then.
Four nights later, Arsenal were the visitors to Stratford, where West Ham kept a second clean sheet in succession to hold the Gunners to a goalless draw – one of five draws achieved in their last 12 games.
Furthermore, only three clubs have lost fewer games than the Hammers’ two – Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool (one each).
And only four have a better goal difference over the same span, with West Ham’s +7 one goal better than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and two better than Arsenal.
Overall, West Ham have scored 21 goals in those 12 matches, the fifth-highest of any Premier League club since 9 December, with Marko Arnautovic leading the way with seven goals, in addition to three assists.
Nine different players have hit the net – Ayew, Arnautovic, Carroll, Chicharito, Collins, Lanzini, Noble, Obiang and Sakho – with Chicharito and Noble each scoring three times and both Carroll and Lanzini twice.
West Ham’s 21 goals came from eleven right-foot shots, five left-foot shots, three headers and two penalties.
Defensively, West Ham may have kept just three clean sheets in those 12 matches, but they have conceded more than one goal on just three occasions – the defeats at home to Newcastle United and at Brighton & Hove Albion and the dramatic 3-3 Boxing Day draw at AFC Bournemouth – and conceded just 14 goals in total.
That improved defensive solidity – the Hammers had conceded 32 goals in their opening 15 Premier League matches at an average of 2.13 goals/game, compared to just 1.17 goals/game over their most-recent 12 games – has been based on Moyes’ consistent selections at the back.
Goalkeeper Adrian and centre-half Angelo Ogbonna have both played all 1,080 minutes, followed by right-back – and occasional defensive midfielder – Pablo Zabaleta (1,069) and Aaron Cresswell (976).
West Ham’s form will surely be tested in their next two matches, away to Liverpool and a resurgent Swansea City – who have themselves collected 18 points from their last 12 games to climb off the bottom of the table – but Moyes and his players can travel to Anfield and the Liberty Stadium with confidence drawn from their recent upturn in performances and results.