In this crazy season, don’t rule out West Ham of top-four race

 
Trevor Steven
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Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
Bilic has guided West Ham to fifth in the league, a point behind Manchester City and three adrift of Arsenal (Source: Getty)

West Ham have proven they can cling to the coattails of the leading pack and in this crazily unpredictable Premier League season I wouldn’t rule out a top-four finish.

Three successive wins have propelled the Hammers to fifth, just a point behind Manchester City and three adrift of Arsenal. I don’t really see them finishing any lower than where they are now, while Champions League qualification remains a possibility.

Credit must go to the man in the hotseat, Slaven Bilic. He wears his heart on his sleeve and I can imagine the West Ham dressing room being an exciting place to be. I can’t imagine him being anything other than inspirational.

The old West Ham used to have a soft underbelly but Bilic has really filed that down and produced a really solid core of players with a couple of exceptional ones – Dimitri Payet springs to mind.

A crucial run of fixtures now lie in wait. After Manchester United in the FA Cup this weekend, West Ham face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before home games against Crystal Palace and Arsenal and then an away clash at Leicester.

The Upton Park club have been really impressive at responding to disappointing runs of results this term and it’s imperative they continue to do that. The players can’t be devastated if they do get turned over, they just need to get back on the horse and keep going.

I thought West Ham would be bottom half this season but their timing, in terms of having such a wonderful campaign, has been immaculate given the concertinaed nature of the league and how fascinatingly tight it is.

Converging elements which point towards a memorable season are there: Bilic, the club’s last season at the Boleyn Ground, the excitement of the Olympic Stadium, players such as Mark Noble playing at a far higher level than he has ever done.

On current form I believe West Ham will finish above Manchester United. For me, that means the Hammers will be playing European football at the Olympic Stadium next season, it just depends in which competition.

Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.

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