Eight points separate ninth place and the relegation zone in the Premier League. It is shaping up to be an exciting last third of the season at the bottom of the table.
This is a nine-part analysis of the clubs that are fighting the drop, including brief arguments as to how each could stay up and what their downfall could be.
First up, we take a look at West Ham.
West Ham United
Why will they stay up?
The strength of their squad is one key reason that West Ham can stay up this season. Being able to call on a striker with the quality of Javier Hernandez may be the difference for West Ham. The Mexican’s quality that has not been seen too often in this campaign so far. However, in the midst of an injury crisis, his availability highlights the depth that they have compared to the clubs around them.
The signing of Jordan Hugill from Preston on deadline day bolsters their front line even more. The centre-forward may not have Premier League experience but he could be a useful talent to have.
The likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Mark Noble, James Collins and Adrian add a degree of experience. This is complemented by the arrival of veteran defender Patrice Evra on a free transfer last week.
David Moyes has made the Hammers far more resolute, conceding 23 goals in 16 league games compared to 23 goals in 11 games for Slaven Bilic earlier in the season.
Moyes inherited a squad that had publicly complained about his predecessor’s training methods. For this reason, it would perhaps be unfair to include the two goals they conceded against Watford in the Scotsman’s first game in charge, as well as the four they shipped to Everton a couple of weeks later.
Moyes had not had the time to fully implement the solidity that has seen them climb the table. The central players remain fairly rigid, letting the attacking talents of Arnautovic and Lanzini, when he is fit, flourish. Joao Mario has also been a good inclusion due to his composure on the ball and his ability to retain possession.
One loss in eight Premier League matches highlights the sterling work that Moyes has done to steer the ship of a team that was in turmoil.
Why could they go down?
That very same turmoil extends to the hierarchy of the club, with supporters tired of the Sullivan, Gold and Brady regime. There have been many broken promises to fans over their tenure and a whole host of missed signings. This much angst at the top level could see them plummet into the Championship.
The aura of the club has not felt right for a while. This could be detrimental to the confidence of the manager and the players. Moyes should be wily enough to not let that affect him or his squad.
Michail Antonio has returned to the squad, and Arnautovic is back now, and back on the scoresheet against Watford. However, Lanzini is not scheduled to be back until 3rd March. This could be a big miss in a team that still lack a creative spark in certain games.
It is unlikely, but zero points from the next two fixtures, against a rampant Liverpool and Swansea would put West Ham right back in the mire and they would be a real candidate to go down. Nonetheless, they should have enough quality and nous to survive this turbulent season.