Pre-Christmas period 'will shape West Ham's season'

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Simon Stone, BBC Sport

The pre-Christmas period will do much to shape West Ham’s season.

Six Premier League games - including four against teams below David Moyes’ side in the table, a trip to a Tottenham team badly affected by injuries and a game against a hugely inconsistent Manchester United - offer the opportunity to push on towards the European places.

The home game against Freiburg on 14 December will decide whether the Hammers top their Europa League group and go straight through to the last 16, while a visit to Liverpool on 20 December has the prize of a first Carabao Cup semi-final appearance in a decade.

Unusually, the key for Moyes’ team will be keeping clean sheets.

In their first 12 league games last season, West Ham managed to keep three, even though they only won four times and collected 14 points.

This term, they have won on five occasions and amassed 17 points, but their clean sheet tally stands at one - against Sheffield United on 30 September. They have both scored and conceded 10 more than the same point last year.

Defensively, this might be down to the exit of Declan Rice, new arrivals Edson Alvarez and James Ward-Prowse still getting to know each other and, at least against Brentford recently, the injury to Kurt Zouma. The latter thrust Konstantinos Mavropanos into the heart of Moyes’ usually well-drilled rearguard.

The Hammers chief will be hoping for an improvement. If that can be achieved, by Christmas the club should have a lot to look forward to.

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