West Ham are just one point off the Premier League top four after a highly-favorable weekend of results.
The Irons’ come-from-2-0-behind victory over Everton was auspicious enough on its own, being their first normal-time triumph over the Toffees since 2007.
However, the failures of Arsenal, Manchester United and Stoke to win did much to consolidate the east London side’s position on the cusp of the Champions League qualification spots.
But for Manchester City (one point ahead of West Ham in forth) playing Aston Villa and a 96th-minute penalty winner for Liverpool against Crystal Palace it could have been the perfect weekend for the Irons top-four dreams.
Despite their proximity to a leading quartet, that, with the exception of Leicester, have begun misfiring with the regularity of an old Ford Cortina, Slaven Bilic’s men are as long as 9/1 to qualify for the a seat at Europe’s top table next term.
Man Utd are less then half the price at 7/2, while Liverpool are also shorter than the Boleyn Ground outfit at 7/1.
The odds-compilers’ reasoning for their top-four betting assessment likely has much in common with those Irons fans using fixture-list-based cynicism to self-medicate against future ‘what might have beens’.
Chelsea (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (A), Man Utd (H) and Stoke (A) are all still to come this season – all five are in the top half of the table as it stands.
However, West Ham have the best record versus sides currently residing above the Premier League equator in the entire division.
In 13 matches against the current top ten this term, they’ve lost just three times, drawing a further three and winning seven and accumulating more points across the fixtures than next best Leicester and Man Utd (both of whom have played 14).
Given the Irons have claimed only one more point from 16 outings against bottom-half sides in 2015/16 a seemingly difficult fixture list could, in fact, be an advantage in their quest to bring the Champions League to the Olympic Stadium.