West Ham United captain Mark Noble believes the Hammers can challenge for a place in the Premier League top four this season.
The Hammers are currently 11th in the table after five games, albeit with a game in hand, but level with sixth-placed Manchester United on eight points – but sit belown them due to holding an inferior goal-difference.
Where will West Ham finish this season? Five things to know…
- West Ham finished 10th in the Premier League last season.
- With Manchester United and Chelsea both in transition the race for the top six is expected to be open.
- Leicester City, Everton and Wolves were all being tipped as potential teams to upset the ‘Big Six’ pre-season.
- Mark Noble believes West Ham can also be in contention, after their good start to the season.
- The West Ham captain went as far as predicting a top four finish for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
With both Manchester United and Chelsea considered to be in transition this season, the likes of Leicester City, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers had been tipped to break into the top six.
Wolves have not started the season well, currently sitting 19th without a win, but Noble believes his own West Ham side can break the mould of the Premier League after a good start.
“Our draw at Aston Villa means we’re unbeaten now in five games, including the Carabao Cup, and we’ve kept clean sheets in three successive matches,” he wrote in the Evening Standard.
“So it’s easy to understand why we’re relishing the visit of Manchester United on Sunday. We’ve only lost once in our past nine League matches and been beaten only twice at home in 2019.
“There’s a feeling that the chance exists for a change and at least one different club to break into the top six this season.”
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Not just settling for a possible Europa League spot, Noble went one step further and predicted West Ham could go as far as finishing in the top four, taking advantage of uncertainty at the top.
He added: “I would even go one step further. I believe there is an opportunity for someone different to actually make it into the top four!
“The top two — Liverpool and Manchester City — look nailed on and Spurs are a very good side.
“After that, you look at Arsenal, who could easily have lost at Watford last weekend; Chelsea, where Frank Lampard has done incredibly well to play young English players but are banned from signing anyone and have lost Eden Hazard; plus United, who are, let’s say, in transition.
“Even Wolves, who did so well last season, are finding it tough with their Europa League commitments.
“So clubs like Leicester, Everton and ourselves are saying: ‘Do you know what? I think we have a chance this season.’
“I really believe that is the case and if I didn’t, I would not be doing my job properly as West Ham captain. If you can go on a roll and keep winning, then there is no reason why even third or fourth place are out of reach.”
Can West Ham finish in the top four?
Despite Noble’s lofty ambitions, the top four might just be out of reach for West Ham, who are more used to fighting for a top 10 finish over recent seasons.
In their past 10 Premier League campaigns, the Hammers have finished in the top 10 four times, reaching as high as seventh in the 2015/16 season.
But in that time, they have also been relegated, finishing bottom in 2010/11 after just about surviving the drop the season before.