With the last international break of the year out of the way this week, West Ham United will be back in Premier League action this weekend.
The Hammers travel to bottom club Sheffield United. And given their performances so far this season it is a game West Ham should be looking to win.
West Ham are nicely ensconced around midtable after an excellent return of 11 points from one of the most difficult starts to a season ever handed to a Prem side.
In truth West Ham deserve at least two more points after harsh defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.
Hammers nicely ensconced in midtable after negotiating tough start in style
But with the likes of Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham, Man City and Liverpool out of the way, West Ham – on paper at least – have now embarked on an easier run of games.
David Moyes’s side were expected to beat struggling but improved Fulham. They just about managed it thanks to Tomas Soucek’s last minute winner and Ademola Lookman’s errant Panenka penalty attempt.
And that has left the Hammers within touching distance of the European mix.
But the prospect of being in that shake-up could soon be a reality.
That’s if our Hammers News predictions are anything to go by.
Even factoring in a moderate dose pessimism, West Ham should find themselves in the top seven approaching the halfway stage of the season.
West Ham to build foundations for possible European spot as next seven games are predicted
Here we predict the next seven games and things are looking positive for Moyes and his side.
Sheffield United (away)
West Ham had two tight games against the Blades last season. The Hammers should have earned a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane when Robert Snodgrass fired in a 93rd minute equaliser.
But it was ridiculously ruled out by VAR for a Declan Rice handball as West Ham lost 1-0.
At the London Stadium the teams played out a 1-1 draw with Sebastien Haller on the scoresheet.
No fans at Bramall Lane appears to have been a big factor for Sheffield United with results falling away since stadiums were emptied.
West Ham have so many options to hurt Chris Wilder’s side who are suffering second season syndrome. Meanwhile the Blades have a number of injury issues.
Prediction: Sheffield United 0 West Ham 2.
Aston Villa (home)
West Ham and Villa also have historically tight games with lots of draws in the Premier League era.
The latest came on the last day of last season when a 1-1 draw was enough to keep Villa up.
Dean Smith invested well over the summer and it will be much of the same again in a high-scoring draw.
Prediction: West Ham 2 Villa 2.
Manchester United (home)
West Ham have had some famous results over Manchester United over the years.
And West Ham have the personnel to hurt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s inconsistent side.
It depends on which Manchester United turn up on the day.
But a draw here looks another safe bet.
Prediction: West Ham 1 Man United 1.
Leeds United (away)
Another one that is tough to call at the moment. Leeds have looked like world beaters at times. But their intense full tilt style is hard to maintain and has already seen them looking leggy and on the end of a few hidings.
If Moyes gets the approach right there is no reason why West Ham can’t beat Leeds and the goalkeeper looks very questionable indeed.
It is a game that could easily end in another high-scoring draw. But West Ham’s new found defensive solidity should be enough to secure another victory.
Prediction: Leeds 1 West Ham 2.
Some tight calls but Moyes can have Hammers planning European tour
Crystal Palace (home)
This could be tight too as Palace have also enjoyed a good start to the season.
With Wilfried Zaha and former West Ham target Eberechi Eze in the side, Palace will provide a tricky test.
Under Roy Hodgson they are no mugs defensively either.
But West Ham have power, pace, guile and a defensive shape that should nullify the Eagles. So another win is more than realistic for West Ham here.
Prediction: West Ham 2 Palace 1.
West Ham may have beaten Frank Lampard’s side to help them stay up last season but this will be a different scenario.
With a host of new recruits Chelsea look strong and given the wide open nature of the league this season, the Blues will fancy their chances of challenging for the title.
This looks a tough ask and West Ham will come up short.
Prediction: Chelsea 3 West Ham 1.
The Boxing Day game is another great chance for a Hammers win. And win we will against a Brighton side that is struggling for wins and consistency at the time of writing.
West Ham have a good record on Boxing Day.
And that won’t change this season with a resounding win on the road at the Amex.
Prediction: Brighton 1 West Ham 3.
If the predictions prove there or thereabouts West Ham will be firmly in the running for a European spot approaching the halfway stage of the season.
Points possible: 21
Predicted points: 14
Predicted points total after 15 games: 25.