West Ham evoke the memories of the Boleyn Ground’s final chapter as those at the London Stadium dare to dream

·4-min read
West Ham evoke the memories of the Boleyn Ground’s final chapter as those at the London Stadium dare to dream

West Ham are riding a wave that shows no sign of slowing down.

A thrilling win over Liverpool moved the Hammers into the top three but this special evening at the London Stadium felt more significant than just the result alone.

These are heady days for West Ham supporters, who have never had it so good. Their team is up to third in the Premier League, three points behind leaders Chelsea, and looks ready to mount a serious challenge to qualify for the Champions League.

West Ham are already into the knockout stage of the Europa League, are second favourites with the bookmakers to win the competition and have a Carabao Cup quarter-final on the horizon.

They are a brilliant team, resolute in defence, relentless in midfield and dangerous on the counter-attack. They are a brilliantly-coached side full of likeable, hard-working individuals and surely one of the best teams in world football from set-pieces.

In David Moyes, they have a manager reborn who says West Ham are on the “fast train to the top”.

In Declan Rice, they have one of England’s best players and someone who John Terry last night described as “the best in his position in world football”.

After one of West Ham’s best nights in five years at the London Stadium, Moyes was even asked yesterday if it is time to consider them as genuine title challengers.

He played down talk of a title challenge but the brilliant Pablo Fornals sees no reason for West Ham to put any limits on their aspirations this season.

And all this amid a backdrop of talks over significant investment from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who was at the London Stadium yesterday as he closes in on a deal worth around £150million to acquire a stake of around 27 per cent in the club.

“Everything to do with West Ham right now is unbelievable,” said Michail Antonio after the game.

While Moyes was probably right to play down title talk for now, there is a feeling around West Ham at the moment that anything is possible.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

They have now beaten Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham this season and have proved they are capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone.

How far can the Hammers go this season? Can they do a Leicester? Only time will tell.

Leicester’s Premier League title win in 2015-16 showed that anything can happen when everything comes together.

Of course, keeping their key players fit will be crucial and the season is still in its infancy but, in a campaign when the big sides have all shown vulnerabilities, West Ham can dare to dream.

“This result shows that we’re really in with a good chance of challenging for the top places,” said Moyes. “I’m hugely proud [that I’ve turned West Ham around]. The way the players have gone about it, you talk about me turning it around, these players were close to relegation. Now we’re pushing for Europe.

“I want us to challenge whichever teams are in the top four [and] I have laid that down to the players.

“I want to challenge those teams, I don’t know who they’re going to be. I hope one of them could be us but at the moment others have been there before us. So we need to try and push and I thought today was a challenge.”

In 2021, West Ham have amassed 65 points in the Premier League. Only champions Manchester City (80) and reigning European champions Chelsea (66) have earned more than the Hammers.

They ended Liverpool’s 25-game unbeaten run with what felt like another marker about their remarkable progress under Moyes After missing out on a top-four finish by just two points last season, Moyes has built on that achievement this campaign.

The Scot has transformed every facet of the club. When he returned to the London Stadium in December 2019, West Ham fans could be forgiven for wanting to get away from there as fast as possible during a nervy battle against relegation.

Yesterday, they stayed on long after full-time, celebrating with renditions of “West Ham are massive, everywhere we go”.

“The players on the pitch can feel the change in the stands,” said Antonio.

“This season now, with the fans back, it kind of reminds me of the Boleyn Ground.

“I signed when it was the last year there. The atmosphere, the charisma inside the stadium and changing rooms, everything to do with West ham now is unbelievable.

“The fans are there to support us and keep lifting us, it is amazing.”

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