West Ham United face their most difficult game of the Premier League season this Saturday as they get the weekend underway with a visit to champions-elect Manchester City.

The Hammers will be looking to end an astonishing run for Pep Guardiola’s side, which involves a number of records – including 13 straight league wins.

Even the most optimistic West Ham fans may not have been expecting their 26th game of the season to be a top-four clash, but that billing has been rightfully earned. David Moyes’ side have secured seven wins from nine games since the turn of the year.

The beginning of the season wasn’t filled with optimism, even of the cautious kind – indeed there was concern at how close the side came to the drop in a congested set of fixtures after ‘Project Restart’.

The safety net in the end was five points, but it was close enough for quotes of just 5/1 for it not to be such a lucky escape in the 2020/21 campaign.

That 5/1 came under pressure straight away after defeats to Newcastle and Arsenal. A seasonal low relegation price of just 9/4 was on offer as they welcomed Wolves to the London Stadium on an afternoon in late September.

A Jarrod Bowen brace in a 4-0 thrashing of a side with consecutive top-seven finishes made everyone take note – and accelerated the theory that they’d been unlucky in game two at the Emirates.

A top-six finish was quoted as a 16/1 shot pre-season, before shooting to 40/1 in September. We’re now in the “where’s the passport?” territory of 11/10.

Those relegation odds were comfortably eased week-on-week as it became clear that the campaign was to be no fight for survival.

In fact, it was the earliest in Premier League history that West Ham were removed from the ‘Relegation’ prices. Odds compilers effectively said the danger was over when odds shot past the 100/1 mark as early as January’s consecutive home wins over Burnley and West Brom.

Focus was already on the market for a ‘Top Half’ finish in the table, an eventuality that went odds-on after a fantastic 2-1 win at Leeds in December. The pre-season quote on that market was as big as 11/4, reaching a huge 5/1 following the zero points from six to start.

The journey from 5/1 to a current 1/33 has been steady, with a percentage shift – illustrative of chance of occurrence – soaring from 17% to 97% over the course of the 147 days between that Wolves success to victory over Tottenham last Sunday.

Ticking off that top-10 marker with a heavy odds-on quote ensured that talk then moved to European qualification and a ‘Top Six’ finish, quoted as a 16/1 shot pre-season, before shooting to 40/1 in September. We’re now in the “where’s the passport?” territory of 11/10 in that market.

There is now emphasis on another triumph: becoming London’s top club. Chelsea are the nearest challengers on that score, but regardless of where the Blues end up it would be extremely satisfying to finish above both Arsenal and Tottenham, something that hasn’t been achieved since the 1985/86 top-flight season.

That memorable campaign resulted in a third-place finish, with no continental reward due to the English club ban. A repeat finish would earn a club first – entry into Europe’s elite competition.

Ahead of the game at City, the price for West Ham to be playing Champions League football next season rests at a thoroughly promising 5/1. That’s from a pre-season 28/1 and seasonal high of 50/1. Victory at the Etihad would shorten those odds at least another three ticks in the right direction.

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