Being (at best) a casual fan of the English Premier League, I had last paid any heed to West Ham United two Saturdays ago in a home match against first-place Manchester United. I had woken up in time to watch the second half on ESPN2. Before doing so, though, I flipped through the most recent soccer thread on Baseball Think Factory and took note of post no. 10:
I have a feeling the second half of this game is going to be like the German attack at the end of Saving Private Ryan, with West Ham as Tom Hanks and company.
Sure enough, after perhaps 20 minutes of the second half had elapsed . . . blitzkrieg! Man U scored four unanswered goals in quick succession, three off the leg of Wayne Rooney.
Anyway, Right Field commenter “Otis Nixon” yesterday wondered about the Hammers’ immediate future. (If the season ended tonight, West Ham, along with the Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic would be relegated. With six clubs bunched up at the bottom of the EPL table (i.e., standings) and several matches remaining, I asked a EPL-phile friend who works in the Senate for predictions.
Here is his reply:
In my view, it will come down to strength of schedule and form, which are key in the final stretch of the season. Based on those undoubtedly subjective factors, my prediction is that West Ham, which lost the last two games and will play Manchester City and Chelsea away in consecutive weeks, Wigan, which has four out the six remaining games away from home, and new boys Blackpool, which lost four out of the last five and will finish off the season away at Tottenham and Manchester United, will be the clubs relegated. Look for more experienced Blackburn and this year’s Carling Cup winner Birmingham to move away from danger over the next few fixtures and the feisty Wolves to take part in last-minute heroics to stay put for another year.
West Ham hosts Aston Villa at Upton Park on Saturday morning at 10:00 EDT.