West Ham United occupy a standing inside the Premier League’s top four, and they are there on merit.
Few may have predicted that the Hammers would be positioned among the Champions League chasers at this stage, but there is now every reason to believe that a push for Europe is on the cards.
Bringing continental football back to Upton Park would be a major feather in the cap of Sam Allardyce, given all that he has endured during his time in the East End.
He has not always been embraced by the West Ham support, but his larger-than-life character is starting to rub off on those around him.
His recruitment nous is also being recognised, with the likes of Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Mauro Zarate and Alex Song brought in over the course of a productive summer.
The bubbles are now blowing more forcefully than before, with it easy to argue that West Ham have been the Premier League’s most impressive side this season.
Jeff Stelling took a break from filming his alternative Christmas speech for the Carlsberg Fan Squad, released on Boxing Day, to discuss that issue with HITC Sport, and here is what he had to say: “There has been a big anti-Big Sam brigade at West Ham and he’s absolutely silenced them. They’ve changed their style slightly, but they’ve performed brilliantly.
“They’ve brought in players and it’s hard to think of one that hasn’t really come off. Full-backs, Cresswell and Jenkinson, have been absolutely fantastic. Song, everybody is scratching their head and wondering how did West Ham manage that, when the likes of Arsenal have been looking for someone like Song pretty much since he left. Up front, Sakho and Varate and Valencia, everybody has come off. He’s got Stewart Downing playing the football of his life, Andy Carroll has come back.
“The thing with them is that they have got every chance of keeping it going throughout the season because they do have a little bit of strength in depth, they do have players battling for their place in the side because somebody else is waiting to come in. They have been fantastic.”
Allardyce, who has already scooped one Manager of the Month prize this season, will agree that the squad he has moulded has the potential to achieve great things.
Momentum from this stage will be crucial, and West Ham are due to take in testing derby dates with London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal before the turn of the year.
If they can enter 2015 in buoyant mood, though, then anything is possible, with there another transfer window about to open which will provide them with an opportunity to further bolster their ranks and shape a side which can rightly claim to be serious top-five contenders.
If Carlsberg did Christmas speeches…. Head to CarlsbergFanSquad.co.uk at midday on Boxing Day to see Jeff Stelling's ultimate review of the year. Click here for a sneak peek behind the scenes. Follow @CarlsbergFooty for Barclays Premier League ticket giveaways and more from the Carlsberg Fan Squad.