West Ham United currently sit in 10th place in the table on 32 points. While this is a far cry from where West Ham was located in the table only a few months ago, it is still not necessarily where the club had hoped to be going into the season.
While Chelsea appear to be running away with the league, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United all seem to be chasing out spots two through six. The next big cluster of teams contains West Ham, with Stoke City sitting 9th in the table, level with West Ham on 32 points, followed by Southampton FC, Burnley FC, and Watford FC all on 30 points and in spots 11th through 13th.
Since West Ham are playing one of the teams that they are currently bunched with in the table, it is a key time to take control of their own fate and finish in the top half of the table. While there have been rumors that Bilic is in trouble if the team doesn’t reach 8th in the table, a top ten finish would surely be considered a fantastic finish given all of the drama that surrounded the move to the London Stadium and the Dimitri Payet situation.
So not only would a victory against Watford help to avenge the loss in the reverse fixture, which West Ham lost 2-4, but it would help to put some pressure on Stoke and West Bromwich Albion. Stoke play Tottenham, Manchester City, and Chelsea in three of their next four matches and West Brom play Arsenal and Everton at the end of the month of March. While a draw wouldn’t be the worst result in the world, three points will be vital to keep West Ham on a path to a top ten finish. A loss, however, could see the Hammers drop all the way down to 13th place if results go against West Ham this weekend.
Andy Carroll's First Goal vs Middlesbrough #COYI #WHUFC #MIDWHU #PL pic.twitter.com/5o8AcUVyG2— West Ham Rage (@WestHamRage) January 21, 2017
While there are rarely “Must Win” games in league football, it’s a marathon, not a sprint after all, a positive result at Watford could be seen as a critical juncture in the season, much like the two home wins in December to pull West Ham away from the relegation zone and put them on the path to mid-table safety and consolidation was seen as a turning point in the season. Apart from some ugly losses to Manchester City, the recent form of West Ham has been fantastic, with big wins away at Southampton, Middlesbrough and Swansea City helping to put the Hammers in the position to succeed in the second half of the season. Here’s hoping that form continues against Watford on Saturday.