LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Michail Antonio of West Ham United (30) celebrates with Mark Noble (16), Dimitri Payet (27) and Cheikhou Kouyate (8) as he scores their first goal during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Is it time to admit West Ham are favorites for 4th?

I’ll admit, the title of this piece is bold, but West Ham have been one of the most consistent teams in the Premier League this season. While this may come down to a lack of pressure from the belief that they are punching above their weight, West Ham have blossomed under Slaven Bilic. It couldn’t come at a better time either, as West Ham will soon be in the Olympic Stadium. With a brand new stadium, massive amounts of cash from the new tv deal and a consistently performing team, can West Ham kick on from here? To really grow to the next stage, West Ham will need to secure Champions League soccer for next season. While the struggles of the teams surrounding them have made this quite possibly the best chance they have had yet, nobody is really discussing them as anything more than Top 4 pretenders.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19:  Branislav Ivanovic (C) of Chelsea competes for the ball against Dimitri Payet (L) and Manuel Lanzini (R) of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on March 19, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 19: Branislav Ivanovic (C) of Chelsea competes for the ball against Dimitri Payet (L) and Manuel Lanzini (R) of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on March 19, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

If Leicester’s rise this season has shown us anything, if you can consistently perform, anything is possible. That is exactly what West Ham have been doing this season. They currently sit one point behind Manchester City with fewer losses, but eleven draws. They are unbeaten in their last five matches and are 5th in the table. The loss to Southampton is the sole bump in the road recently (aside for the late draw with Chelsea last weekend). Now let’s compare this with their other rivals for Top 4.

Manchester City’s form has been awful since they announced that Pep Guardiola would take over the club in the summer. They have gotten an abysmal four points from their last five matches, and that form looks to be continuing. With only one point separating the two, it would not be unheard of for West Ham to jump over Manchester City after the next match. Manchester City still remains West Ham’s biggest threat to their Top 4 chances, though, especially when looking at their next six fixtures. It is these matches they have faltered the most in, however, so it all depends on which City shows up that day.

Next is Manchester United, who currently sit equal on points to West Ham. They may be equal on points, but Manchester United have certainly been guilty of getting through matches on the backs on one or two moments of individual brilliance instead of any sort of plan or team philosophy. In fact, you could go as far to say that Manchester United have been picking up points in spite of that philosophy. With their next group of fixtures, specifically including Everton, Spurs, and Leicester, they may have a tough road ahead of them.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Michail Antonio of West Ham United scores his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on January 2, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Michail Antonio of West Ham United scores his team’s first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on January 2, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Finally, I’ll include Liverpool into the mix, though they probably represent the least likely of the three to challenge West Ham. They may have a match in hand on the rest, but they needed to hold out for a win against Southampton to truly be in the mix. That being said, they also have the easiest remaining fixtures (if any match this season can be considered easy), so it’s impossible to count them out. The same can be said for Stoke and Southampton, who sit ahead of Liverpool but have played two matches more. They could be in the mix, but need the three ahead of them to mess up. Again, anything can happen this season, but for these three to have a hope, something needs to happen fast.

At this stage, the only reason that West Ham won’t be in the Top 4 come the end of the season is down to West Ham’s schedule. In their last eight matches, they play Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United, and Stoke. West Ham have had mixed fortunes against the Top 4 and Top 4 contenders this season, so that could be a potential killer for them. If they can maintain the good form they are in, which is likely, West Ham will have to be considered Top 4 favorites.

Jeff Snyder

About Jeff Snyder

Jeff Snyder is an Associate Editor at 32 Flags, professional writer, and has been working in sports broadcast for almost half a decade. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheJackAnty.

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