West Ham's 2014/15 half-term report - punching above their weight?

It seems that Sam Allardyce received a remit of playing football in a more attractive way to get his job, and he's done a bit more than that.

Prediction at the start of the season

Some will have expected West Ham United to be operating in mid-table, and unlikely to be relegated as Allardyce tried to change perceptions of his West Ham side, and him as a manager.

Performance so far

They have performed well beyond expectations and are challenging for place in the Champions League as things stand, as well as playing an entertaining brand of football. They have beaten some of the bigger names along the way, now the question is whether they can keep it up or not.

Manager rating

9/10: Allardyce has found a way to get his side functioning well as a unit and has been positive about his side going forward.

Best game West Ham have been involved in

There have been a few, their fightback from 2-0 against Stoke City to salvage a draw was a highlight, whilst their wins at home to Manchester City and Liverpool were both entertaining games to watch. It signals just how exciting West Ham have been this season that all three could be chosen.

New signings (loan or otherwise)

Both Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have been a nightmare for opposition defences this season, with Sakho in particular finding the net regularly. Alex Song has brought a lot of experience and know-how to the central midfield, and Aaron Cresswell has proved you can find talent outside of the top flight, by proving to be a shrewd recruit from the lower leagues having signed from Ipswich Town. Carl Jenkinson on loan from Arsenal looks to have been a good move for both the club and player, and appears to have impressed on several occasions, whilst the signing of Morgan Amalfitano added some quality and experience. Diego Poyet has yet to have much opportunity to impress, and has had a loan spell at Huddersfield. Mauro Zarate has scored twice but only made eight appearances for the club since signing, and appears to be out of favour at the Boleyn Ground.

Most significant win of the season

West Ham United 3-1 Liverpool - It was a sign that West Ham could challenge the bigger sides when they blitzed Liverpool in the first 10 minutes to go 2-0 up. Liverpool rallied and pulled a goal back after making a tactical change, but West Ham managed to pick them off as the visitors pushed for an equaliser to secure a big win.

West Ham's low point so far

Their opening day defeat to Tottenham in the final minute will have irked everyone involved at the club, especially given they had many chances but just didn't take them. They were punished, and they had a man's advantage. Their two losses to Chelsea and Arsenal over the festive period will obviously be disappointments, but that shows you just how far the side has come so far this term.

Strengthening in January

Strengthening will be more about quality in any position they can find rather than looking for a certain position to be filled for Sam Allardyce, as the club's objectives may have changed a little from the start of the season.

The rest of the season

If they can keep up this form, they will be in the mix for a European place come the end of the campaign, but a top half finish should not be sniffed at if they can't. For the sake of the league, it would be good to see West Ham in the mix and prove they can compete without spending eye-watering amounts of money, whilst changing their style of play.

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