Before the international break, West Ham United were flying. David Moyes had just orchestrated a home win over Liverpool, ending their long unbeaten run and defying the bet exchange to head third in the table. However, things haven’t gone to plan since and after more dropped points they risk crashing out of the illustrious Champions League places. 

The Irons have been a solid unit so far this season but with the inevitable fatigue of the festive period, and the sides around them looking like they’re getting their act together, it could be a turbulent period for Moyes and co, who will be looking to secure another year of European football at the London Stadium.

Many feared after a wretched run of form that the Irons were in danger of fading into obscurity, however a big win over league leaders Chelsea, down to a late cross-turned shot from Arthur Masuaku, has put them in control of their own destiny once again. The Blues never really got going and Moyes’ attack looked potent and smelt blood.

There’s no doubt they have been firing on all cylinders this season. Michail Antonio looks inspired, becoming the club’s top scorer in the Premier League era earlier on in the campaign, but after the win against Liverpool, his overall game looks to have changed slightly. While opponents still may not have figured out how to play against this West Ham team fully, they will now certainly be cautious of leaving space in behind that Antonio usually occupies, meaning the biggest strength of his game may well become nullified.

It could lead to a change in the way the Irons approach games, with Antonio having to drop deeper to see more of the ball. Jamie Vardy flourished when this happened at Leicester City, and was a similar age to Antonio, and you only need to look at how freely he continues to score now to see it is certainly possible, although Antonio is less of a natural finisher, relying more on his brute strength and pace than technical prowess. It has led to a number of chances being squandered and in turn, points dropped — something that led to Moyes’ frustration in the stalemate with Brighton.

“We’re always looking for positives and we’re creating opportunities, but we’ve got to start taking them,” he said. “We’re in a bit of a sticky patch at the moment, but all clubs are going to do that, especially when you’re a team trying to compete at the top and learning to win regularly. 

“We’ve not played quite as well in a couple of the games recently and we’ve got to try and pick that up again.”

A positive West Ham can take from the season so far is that their hopes of a trophy are very much alive. A penalty shootout win over Manchester City in the League Cup put them through to the quarter-final where they face London rivals Tottenham Hotspur away, a ground where they have enjoyed a mixed bag of results since its opening, with Antonio actually becoming the first player to ever score at the stadium. Wembley is still some way away but a two-legged semi-final would come at a busy period and hinder the other teams more than the Irons, who have shown good strength in depth this season in the Europa League as well.

The Irons secured qualification to the next round of the Europa League with relative ease, all the more impressive after dispatching a group with a few stalwarts of the competition including Dinamo Zagreb and Genk. A favourable draw will mean they can kill the round of 32 in the first leg and free up players for the crucial February schedule they have coming up which includes winnable games against Newcastle United and Wolves before heading to Anfield against a Liverpool side out for revenge.