It has seemed that throughout the latter part of this Premier League season, everyone has just been waiting for West Ham United to slip up. The unlikely odyssey of David Moyes’ side into the top four has been one of the stories of the campaign, but there have always been doubts as to whether or not they could sustain it right to the end, with plenty of big-hitting clubs on their coattails.
After 19 minutes of their match at Burnley, when Chris Wood gave the home side the lead, those doubters would have been nodding their heads sagely and affirming that this was the moment that West Ham slipped and lost control. By the time the final whistle blew, West Ham had battled their way to three points and maintained their foothold in the race for Champions League qualification. They still trail Chelsea by three points, but it would take a brave punter to bet against them in the English Premier League top 4 odds.
It would have been easy to fold after Burnley took the lead. A clumsy challenge from Tomáš Souček gifted Burnley a penalty, and Wood converted from the spot. That kind of individual error in an important game could cause a team to lose their concentration, but West Ham responded in the best possible way: going up the other end and equalising. Michail Antonio showed great desire to muscle past Burnley’s defenders and get his head on the end of Vladimír Coufal’s cross.
Eight minutes later, Antonio had scored again, and West Ham had the game truly back in their grasp. Once again, the Hammers forward edged beyond the Burnley defence to turn the ball home, this time from Saïd Benrahma’s cross from the right. It was the kind of response to going behind that you’d expect from a top Premier League side, and West Ham are proving to be just that.
Just as impressive as West Ham’s response to going behind was their ability to control the rest of the game. Burnley can be a very dangerous side if you let them build up momentum, but Moyes’ men exercised their position of dominance and continued to press the home side. Antonio could well have had a hat-trick, but diverted a second-half effort wide.
They did survive a couple of goalmouth scrambles from which Burnley could have scrapped an equaliser, but overall they defended well and were good value for the three points. That level of composure will have pleased Moyes greatly.
Of course, the win means that the dream of Champions League qualification is still very much alive. It’s been a disappointing few seasons for West Ham since they moved to the London Stadium, and this is the first campaign that they’ve genuinely been a serious contender in the top half of the league since moving into their new home.
With supporters set to return next season, Champions League football would be the perfect welcome gift. The English Premier League betting tips have written the Hammers off plenty of times already, but those doubters could well be left red-faced when the season finally draws to a close.