West Ham United briefly moved to fourth place in the Premier League table last night following a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United, and manager David Moyes and his team will be relishing their chances of playing in the Champions League next season.
Chelsea’s win over Newcastle United a few hours later saw the Hammers drop down to fifth at the end of the night, but both teams are level on points, with only four points between them and second-placed Manchester United.
With Manchester City seven points clear at the top of the table and with a game in hand, competition for the remaining three Champions League spots will be very stiff, with goal difference or very few points likely to determine which teams snap them up.
West Ham are firmly in the race for European football, and with just 14 games left to be played in the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, they will believe they can secure a top four spot.
BBC pundit Gary Crooks has been impressed with the Hammers’ campaign, and he also singled out French centre-back Issa Diop and Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard for praises following last night’s win.
“I must be dreaming,” Crooks told the BBC. West Ham in the top four? Well, they were for a brief moment after their victory over a Sheffield United side who, for the first time, looked like a team that is starting to accept its fate.
“The Hammers are doing precisely what Sheffield United are not, and that is scoring goals, keeping clean sheets and winning football matches.
“Issa Diop comes back into the side after being forced off with an injury in his previous game and looked like he’s never been away. An excellent defensive performance by the lad.
“The way Jesse Lingard is playing for West Ham at the moment brings into question the wisdom of Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to let him go to east London on loan in the first place.
“David Moyes will know only too well from his own days at Old Trafford what the lad is capable of and plays him in a role that suits the England international perfectly.
“When he’s on form, and he is at the moment, his ability to transition the play from defence into attack is as good as I’ve seen from any player and he demonstrated it beautifully against Sheffield United.”
Moyes has turned the fortunes of West Ham around with some smart, shrewd signings and brilliant tactics, and it is almost hard to believe that they were fighting relegation just a year ago.
It will be interesting to see where they finish the campaign, but failure to qualify for Europe will definitely be seen as a disappointment.