Saïd Benrahma & Jesse Lingard

'West Ham Are Exceeding Expectations'

West Ham United will enter Sunday's Premier League meeting with Leicester City full of confidence and belief, according to BBC Radio London journalist, Phil Parry.
More on this story...

- West Ham United entertain Leicester City in Sunday's Premier League fixture at London Stadium (2:05pm kick-off BST)
- The Hammers have enjoyed an excellent season to date and are in the hunt for a top four finish under manager David Moyes
- BBC Radio London's Phil Parry speaks to LCFC TV about the key figures within the in-form West Ham side
- He praises the influence of midfielders Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček, as well as January loan signing Jesse Lingard

A stellar campaign to date, which has included victories over the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Leicester, has seen West Ham continue to occupy a position in the upper echelons of the Premier League table and remain in the hunt for a top four finish with eight games to play.

Parry expects the momentum of winning 15 league games this season, combined with scoring six goals in their last two games and remaining unbeaten, will be carried straight into this weekend's encounter with the Foxes at London Stadium.

"It's exceeded all expectations," Parry admitted, speaking about the Hammers' 2020/21 season to date. "David Moyes has been trying to calm it down as much as he can but I think even he's now had to admit that they are in a fight for a top four finish.

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Declan Rice & Tomáš Souček
Declan Rice & Tomáš Souček

The midfield pair have been crucial to West Ham's success this season.

"He's said 'let's see where we are when there's single figures of games to go'. He was just keeping everyone's feet on the ground, but now we are near the end of the season, even Moyes accepts that actually West Ham United are in that fight.

"It's bringing back memories of the team that finished third back in the mid-80s. Everyone is getting rather excited and it's just been the way they've gone about their business which has been so impressive, I think.

"It gives them confidence that they've played most teams twice and they know what to expect. There are some tough games still to come but I think they are a team that believe in what the manager is doing.

"All the talking has been done on the pitch, it's been very quiet off the pitch and I think David's done a really good job to make sure that all the focus is on the pitch and there's a real collective spirit at West Ham.

"They can take the way that they've been able to go and get results this season into the last few games and know that they are capable of winning games and beating teams that they are going to have to beat.

"The system that Moyes has set up, the way he wants to play and the way all the players seem to be buying into what they're doing, they will back themselves to at least get something out of the game."

We saw what potential Declan Rice had and he's now starting to really fulfil that and he is still pretty young, but the development that he's making, the steps that he is taking - particularly in this season - have been really impressive.

Phil Parry BBC Radio London Journalist

Declan Rice's emergence as a key figure within the West Ham midfield has been a major factor in the team's success to date, with the permanent signing of his centre midfield partner Tomáš Souček also proving to be a smart piece of business. The Czech Republic international has weighed in with nine goals in 30 games - no West Ham player has scored more this term.

England midfielder Rice, meanwhile, had featured in all 29 of the Hammers' top flight fixtures until picking up an injury which ruled him out of Monday's trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Moyes' side did not appear to miss him as they raced into a 3-0 lead at Molineux Stadium, before eventually coming away with a 3-2 victory that keeps the London side in a healthy league position.

Parry explained: "Declan [Rice], his improvement is example of how West Ham have improved. He's stepped up again, his maturity has increased, he's been wearing the captain's armband, his game has improved and he really is carrying the ball, he's not just that player that will sit there and tick over.

"He is actually driving things forward as well, alongside the likes of Tomáš Souček in midfield, who has been a revelation since his purchase. He's done magnificently this year, he's a really important player.

"Declan has proven why people were so positive about him as a young man coming through. We saw what potential he had and he's now starting to really fulfil that and he is still pretty young, but the development that he's making, the steps that he is taking - particularly in this season - have been really impressive.

"They'll miss him, but as they proved the other night, they have still got players who can come in, they've still got that momentum and drive to succeed and deliver something, even if Declan can't play much of a role over the next few weeks."

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Craig Dawson
Craig Dawson

Centre-back Craig Dawson has found the net on three occasions for the East London club this season.

Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard has also made a huge impact since moving to London Stadium on a temporary basis, registering six Premier League goals and three assists in the eight games since his January arrival.

"We've got to give a lot of credit to the recruitment over the last 18 months, since David has come in," the journalist added. "The two Czech Republic internationals - Souček and [Vladimír] Coufal - tying up an area which was potentially problematic.

"Then going and getting someone like Lingard who has got himself back into international reckoning, he's playing football with verve and he's enjoyed just getting that opportunity to play.

"He's certainly taken it with relish and he's given them that extra little spark in the position of the pitch that he plays in. In a team that hasn't got too many out and out strikers, Sebastian Haller has been moved on, and we've seen [Michail] Antonio come in and out, other players and some of the defenders have had to chip in with goals.

"[Craig] Dawson has scored from set pieces and Souček can arrive in the penalty area and cause all sorts of havoc as well. They have got delivery opportunities from the likes of [Aaron] Cresswell and there's the stardust that has been sprinkled with the arrival of Lingard.

"Someone who can do what he does and gain confidence and settle into the team immediately has been very important to keep that momentum that they had going into the second half of the season."

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