Mikel Arteta gets carried away by Arsenal upturn and it’s the best thing to happen to West Ham in the battle for a top four spot.
When West Ham lost 2-0 to Arsenal last week it felt like the culmination of a distinctive pattern.
The Hammers have been brilliant under David Moyes.
West Ham mounted a serious challenge for the top four last season – agonisingly finishing just one win short.
And the east Londoners have been showing they are no flash in the pan by challenging for the top four again this term.
West Ham finished above Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal last season. But the victory for the Gunners at the Emirates took them above the Hammers and into the top four.
For most Hammers fans it had been coming. The side’s form has fallen off a cliff since the momentum killing November international break with just one win in their last six Premier League games.
But what is clear for West Ham is that whenever the side gets itself into a position to really kick on in the top four, they stumble.
The mere fact West Ham are even in the conversation is somewhat miraculous given where they were when Moyes took over almost two years ago.
There is no hiding from it, though. West Ham are not comfortable when they become “the hunted” so to speak.
The Hammers are famous for beating the so-called top clubs and then losing to lesser sides.
Moyes has done a brilliant job in levelling that flakiness out.
But it takes a long time to remove that from the DNA of a club and expect the team to be able to suddenly cope with being the favourites when visiting places like Arsenal.
Well now Arsenal have become the hunted for the first time in a long while.
Mikel Arteta gets carried away by Arsenal upturn and it’s the best thing to happen to West Ham
And Arteta has been getting seriously carried away by the club’s upturn in results and the fact they have leapfrogged West Ham into fourth place.
“The points now we have them (to be in fourth place),” Arteta said after beating Leeds to go four points ahead of West Ham – having played a game more.
“And the rest (of the teams) they have to have them (points) to get above us. We know there is a long, unpredictable season ahead… but we are there and we want to continue there, we want to continue improving… let’s see where we get.”
Let’s see indeed.
Let’s see if Arsenal can handle being the ones chased down now.
Prior to West Ham’s dip in form and injuries to key players they would have dealt with the Gunners.
So let’s see how the Gunners get on at the London Stadium during the run-in and where that game leaves both sides.
Arteta is getting carried away but it is the best thing to happen to West Ham this season.
All the pressure now is on Arsenal.
West Ham can go back to flying under the radar and will hopefully – with a fair wind and some shrewd January transfer business – grow stronger in the second half of the season like they did last term. West Ham have never truly been comfortable when holding the baton. But chasing it down is another matter altogether.
The Hammers are the underdogs once again, with nothing to lose, and that suits the club down to the ground.
The beauty of it all is that if West Ham don’t make a Champions League spot – it’s hardly a failure. Whereas for Arsenal – the third biggest club in the country – it always will be. That in itself will bring more and more pressure as the season wears on.
And let’s not forget West Ham also have TWO shots at qualification for Europe’s elite event as they are in the last 16 of the Europa League too.