If West Ham United’s players did not appreciate the gravity of the situation facing them, they do now.
The Hammers dropped into the relegation zone after the pathetic surrender to fellow strugglers Brighton last time out.
Twice ahead by two goals and as late as the 75th minute, David Moyes’s side somehow not only drew 3-3 but were left clinging on for a point by the end.
Consecutive away games against Manchester City and Liverpool await either side of the inauguaral winter break.
Some fans believe games against the elite sides might suit West Ham better.
Pessimists – otherwise known as realists – fear the fixtures will only cement West Ham’s place in the bottom three and do some serious damage to their goal difference too.
New reports provide the smelling salts for dozy West Ham players
Many supporters don’t feel the players have woken up to the grave danger the club is in.
Indeed some believe they simply don’t care.
Sky Sports started their analysis of the relegation battle by effectively narrowing it down to five teams.
Currently separated by three points are Brighton, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, West Ham and Watford. And Sky believes those sides are competing to avoid filling the remaining two spots and joining Norwich in being relegated.
“Collectively, the relegation landscape could not be more congested – and it would appear that the old adage of hitting the magical 40-point mark may well apply this season for the first time in a decade,” Sky Sports reports.
Reports claims 40 points needed to survive
The report then analyses West Ham in detail. And it does not make for good reading.
“Since beating Bournemouth 4-0 on New Year’s Day, West Ham have picked up two points from five games and threw away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 with Brighton on Saturday,” the report states.
“Things do not look to be getting much better either, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Southampton, Arsenal, Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea their next seven games.
“They have conceded 11 goals in that time, having shipped 43 all season – the fourth-worst tally in the division – and only Norwich have lost more games during the campaign. Momentum is not on Moyes or the Hammers’ side.
“What could decide their fate? The defence. It seems obvious, but it’s doubly true for West Ham – of the six games they have won, they have kept clean sheets in five.
“The arrival of Jarrod Bowen in January could provide a springboard at the other end of the pitch, as the Hammers had scored only twice in their previous five league games before Saturday’s 3-3 with Brighton.
“But without getting anything out of that horrible run of games up until early April, Moyes’ team look in big trouble.”
FiveThirtyEight predict that West Ham will not overcome their current slide and drop out of the Premier League at the end of the season, sitting in 19th place on 37 points.
Bournemouth and Watford will survive on goal difference, with Aston Villa finishing in 18th and Norwich bottom says the report.
Moyes needs to pull some rabbits out of the hat
West Ham have a history of upsetting the odds against so-called bigger clubs.
Indeed West Ham have managed that this season with wins over Manchester United and Chelsea.
Moyes will undoubtedly have to pull another couple of rabbits out of the hat if the Hammers are to remain in the Premier League.
Where better to start than Manchester City? There are two schools of thought before the trip to the Etihad.
One is that it might be a good time to play Pep Guardiola’s side who are somewhat out of sorts by their own extremely high standards.
The other is that West Ham will be facing a wounded animal capable of delivering a brutal hiding.
West Ham fans and players will have a better idea of where they stand come 6.30pm on Sunday night.