The 2022/23 Premier League season is drawing to a close, with the final matchday coming up this weekend. For us Hammers, it’s been a long season. Frustrating, emotional, and perhaps historic. That last one is yet TBC.
Some things this season have been standard Premier League fare. Spurs being Spursy. Arsenal bottling the league. Pep finding yet another way to dominate and turn this into a bit of a farmer’s league. Another club bought with big money from abroad.
But there’s one thing that’s different, at least for West Ham fans. This year, we’re in a European final. Repeat that. West Ham are in a European final. In yet another midtable season, with most fans calling for Moyes to go, we have to give the gaffer credit. We can win a trophy.
Before we can psych ourselves up for potential dreamland, however, there’s the tiny detail of the final match of the season. This Sunday’s fixture against Leicester means more to them than it does to us. Let’s be honest. Yet there are a few interesting things to watch out for this Sunday.
What Do the Bookies Say?
You may know our mantra already: listen to the bookies, not the pundits. Gary Neville may have been right about Arsenal eventually bottling the league, but it doesn’t take an expert to come up with that one.
If you look at a selection of football betting sites, the legit ones that is, are all pretty much saying the same thing. West Ham isn’t going to win this match. The boffins think the most likely result is a Leicester win, with a draw another potential decent bet. Don’t put your money on the Hammers getting all three points, however.
West Ham: Relegation Bogey Team?
The former England manager, Sam Allardyce, was brought in to help Leeds avoid relegation. Yet Big Sam’s return to the London Stadium wasn’t a happy one, with the Hammers coming from behind to seal a 3-1 home win.
Leeds is fighting an unlikely battle against the drop, and they now need to beat Tottenham to stand a chance of staying up. With West Ham having nothing to play for, at least in league terms, it was an impressive performance.
The Hammers looked a little shaky to start and deservedly conceded after 17 minutes, with an unforgivable long throw-in from Weston McKennie leading to the opening goal.
Yet we showed great resilience, with Hammer of the Year and club captain Declan Rice leading the comeback with a 32nd-minute goal. We looked very solid from then on, with Lucas Paqueta and Bowen delivering stellar performances.
European final or midtable, it does still seem that the players are hungry enough to deliver. Everton and Leeds fans can perhaps use that to cling to some hope.
Shoddy Away Form
There’s one clear thing that does point to a likely Leicester win, Hammer bravado or not. We’ve not exactly been stellar away from the London Stadium. Our away form can only be described as very shoddy.
The last three away matches in the league (we did beat AZ in Alkmaar, of course) have all been lost. Brentford saw us off 2-0, Manchester City delivered an absolute clinic during their 3-0 win, and Crystal Palace notched an impressive 4-3 victory. Good old Woy, eh?
Focus on the Final
Now the question is, can the Hammers focus on the last match against Leicester, or are the players already in European final mode? It will be interesting to see whether Moyes decides to rest a few of his players, or if he opts to give them one final run before our meeting with fate.
In our match against Brentford, which was just ahead of the second leg against AZ, Moyes made nine changes. Both Lucas Paqueta and Declan Rice were on the bench. The loss was so predictable you could almost accuse West Ham of breaking competitive rules.
But will Moyes take the same approach before the final? Not likely. The difference here is that the Hammers have a week and a half before the big day, which is plenty of rest for Premier League legs. We think that most of the big players will get time on the pitch, although probably not the full ninety minutes.
West Ham on Super Sunday
The nice part about having a role to play in the relegation dogfight is that we’re an interesting proposition for the suits at Sky Sports. As such, you’ll be able to watch the Foxes hosting us live on Sunday 28 May, with a 4:30 pm kick-off.
If anything, it will be a nice chance to relax and watch the match at the pub with mates, without having to worry about the result. Win, draw, or lose, we know we’re safe from going down. And we can just let our dreams run wild, speculating about the upcoming final against Fiorentina.
As a Hammers fan, not having to worry about the final day of the season is a nice feeling. Although who will ever forget that classic Tevez goal? But no, we’d still rather have the points in the bag.
Image from: unsplash.com