It's been a while since I've done one of these, so apologies if it is awful.
First off, what a season it has been for West Ham so far! Sitting in 6th place half way through the season is an impressive start, compare this to last season and it is almost beyond belief and it definitely didn't prepare me for this. We have seen an influx of new players who have all been very influential in our progress forward. Firstly at the back the signing of Cresswell and loan option of Jenkinson have been a real coup, there may still be a few question marks over them defensively but they are both young, learning and still really adjusting, yet going forward they provide width and pace and both have excellent deliveries on them. Then you look at our midfield where the main man of note would be Alex Song, his class overall tends to shine through where he makes everything seem effortless, although now and then he could seem like he is trying a bit too hard, then you have Kouyate who is similar to Diame in ways but a bit more consistency about him, although he doesn't offer quite as much of a goal threat, he is very solid, then you have Almalfitano, who when we signed I wasn't sure about at all as he seemed to go missing for West Brom last year, but he seems to have slotted into our side very well. Lastly up front you have Sakho and Valencia, the latter not quite setting the world alight with goals, although the ones he have scored have been pretty good! They also offer the perfect starts of our defending as they have the energy to close down opposition defenders to rush them into making a mistake. On top of that you have Carroll and Downing who are like shadows of the players Liverpool wanted out of their club, Downing at the top of a diamond has seen him become one of the most creative players in the Premiership and with Carroll staying fit is like an extra signing.
Highlights of the season for me have definitely been the home games against Liverpool and Manchester City, which highlighted a big improvement in the way we set up as a team and how our team don't fear anyone. Yes we lost out to Chelsea without doing much, but they have world class players in every position and it is always going to be tough against them and I fully expect them to win the league comfortably.
I'd also like to mention Adrian, he has been a rock at the back for us and has undoubtedly kept us in games by himself with multiple saves throughout games.
With the January window opening, it appears Zarate is off to QPR, I feel for the guy as I feel he's never really being given a full chance to show what he can do, but the fact it is a loan and QPR will probably play him a lot (hopefully), then it could have it's benefits, it could show us that he could be a very good player who deserves a chance in Claret and Blue, or he could flop and we could see we need to let him go. My main concern this window though is Winston Reid, he still appears no closer to signing a new contract and if that is the case, then surely we would be listening to offers now rather than letting him go for free. Which makes me believe we need at least 1 quality centre back in although I'd like 2 to cover any injuries, I like Collins and Tomkins, also Kouyate could work as a backup, but I feel both James' have mistakes in them that can sometimes prove to be costly. Overall though, I'm not really sure what else we would need, maybe another striker to put pressure on the main 3 we have, as I don't feel Carlton Cole shows that!
I do have one concern though Sullivan our co-chairman recently spoke to Soccer AM how Sam did not want Sakho but he persisted and it appears to have paid off, this worries me that there is a bit of a power struggle over transfers, especially with Zarate stating he wasn't the managers signing. I know from when they owned Birmingham how outspoken Sullivan can be and he was similar under previous managers for us and renowned himself with going to the press when things were not going West Ham's way. I just worry that one day this could all come to blows and see if things end sourly.
Lastly I am going to try to guess where we may come this season, I honestly cannot see us being in the top 4, I feel the main contenders are a bit too strong for us and will probably not suffer as much during the AFCON. I do however feel we could qualify for Europe and I think Sam will be hoping that is the case to prove a lot of his doubters wrong. So I am going to plump for 7th.