My earliest memories of going to the Boleyn coincided with the era when fans muttered on the terraces of “Fortress Upton Park.” Bar that torrid season when we were survived at the death by Messrs Hartson and Kitson, one always felt assured when we played at home. Indeed, skipping last season’s brilliant away performances, it has always been our home form that has either ensured Premier League safety or propelled us to the top half.
Many argue that tradition continues this season, which has been key given the three wins, four draws and ten defeats we’ve suffered away from the Boleyn. Seven wins, five draws and four defeats is pretty good going, especially when those defeats have come against Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool, with all, except Arsenal, being close calls.
Still, one can easily argue that some performances at home have been disappointing, and in fact, we could easily be in a much better position in the table if we had been more dominant against certain teams we should have beaten. The problem with West Ham in almost every season is that we perform for the big teams, and don’t for the little ones. The games against Wigan, Newcastle and Reading – our remaining home games – are important tests. Can we get the results that are expected of us, rather than the surprise wins against Chelsea and Swansea or the great draws against the two Manchester clubs?
Our performance at home against the bottom half of the table is formidable: three win against Southampton, Norwich and Aston Villa; three draws against Sunderland, Stoke and QPR. While unbeaten however, one would have expected us to pick up points against QPR for certain, and the Sunderland result required a last-minute Nolan equaliser.
Whilst not to quash our home form entirely, and it is a credit that the majority of our home wins have come from the top half – Swansea, West Brom, Fulham and Chelsea – it is also slightly worrying that we haven’t won games that should be simple. That is why our last three games are not straight forward. Even when poor teams have not been thinking about the battle against relegation – Sunderland and Stoke – we haven’t been able to capitalise. Now, with the season nearing its end, and with Wigan and Newcastle needing victories, can we really achieve three points in games that on paper are easily achievable?
Wigan on Saturday is a much bigger, tougher and more revealing game than you previously thought.