David Moyes says it “nearly feels uneasy” talking about West Ham’s place near the top of the Premier League after the Hammers beat bottom club Sheffield United.
Declan Rice’s penalty, a header by Issa Diop and a third from substitute Ryan Fredericks lifted Moyes’ side into the top four and a Champions League spot.
However, Chelsea’s win over Newcastle in Monday’s late kick-off meant West Ham finished the day fifth – above champions Liverpool.
“We’ve got five games before April and if we make it to there it might start hotting up,” said Moyes after a sixth West Ham win in eight league games.
“But it nearly feels uneasy talking like this. The teams around us are top, top teams and we are going to have to play incredibly well to be there.
“But I think we’ve got another gear or two to what we’ve shown tonight.”
Chris Basham’s lunge on Jesse Lingard helped gift the Hammers victory, Rice making no mistake from the spot before Diop, who was forced off with a head injury in his previous game, doubled the lead from Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
Substitute Fredericks added a third deep into stoppage time.
Sheffield United, 14 points from safety with 14 games left, went close to equalising at 1-0 only for Lukasz Fabianski to produce an outstanding save to keep out David McGoldrick’s deflected header.
West Ham had been awarded an early penalty when Craig Dawson was fouled by Enda Stevens and referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot, but after a VAR consultation the decision was overturned.
Is Europe beckoning for the Hammers?
West Ham’s phenomenal form after last season’s struggle shows no sign of going off the boil.
Having spent last term locked in a relegation battle, the Hammers are now level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea.
When Harry Redknapp’s class of 1998-99 finished fifth in English football’s top flight, they accumulated 57 points.
Victory over the Blades moved Moyes’ team to 42 points with another 42 to play for, and they have to be considered serious contenders for Europe next season.
Their latest win was down to one moment of madness and one moment of brilliance – Basham’s clumsy foul on Lingard and Fabianski’s save to deny McGoldrick at 1-0.
Fabianski had a busier game than he would have liked while at the other end Aaron Ramsdale denied Vladimir Coufal after he found himself with just the keeper to beat.
But Fredericks sealed a polished team display with the third after a lovely assist from fellow substitute Said Benrahma.
With forward Michail Antonio due back from injury, West Ham look in decent shape with the business end of the season looming.
Blades look doomed
Sheffield United have shown signs of fight in recent weeks with victories over Manchester United, Newcastle and West Brom.
But they can have few complaints about the outcome at London Stadium as their hopes of survival suffered a significant setback.
They were once again authors of their own downfall, Basham’s clear-cut foul on Lingard – and Rice’s resulting penalty – undoing their bright start.
McGoldrick was lively but after Diop’s header made it 2-0, the Blades then allowed Fredericks time and space to drill home the third goal.
On a bad night in London, defender John Egan left the pitch with his leg in a protected brace.
Barring a great escape, a 19th league defeat leaves the Blades facing a return to the Championship.
‘We have another level’ – what they said
West Ham boss David Moyes: “Our form after lockdown was good and a couple of signings have worked really well for us, and the players have kicked on.
“I think we have another level. It’s a very good result, very few teams will get three goals against Sheffield United.”
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: “At this level you can’t make it easy for the opposition and we gift-wrapped two goals.
“I thought we would be competitive, which we were. I thought we were well in the game up until that moment [the penalty]. We had a foothold in the game.
“Then we started the second half well but then conceded from a set-play. The manner of the goals is really poor.”
Making a point – the stats
- Only in 1983-84 (43) and 1985-86 (48) have West Ham had more points on the board at this stage of a top-flight campaign.
- No side has failed to score in more Premier League games this season than Sheffield United (12, level with Burnley).
- West Ham have won 19 points in the Premier League in 2021 – only Manchester City (27 points) have accumulated more in the calendar year.
- The Blades have conceded the first goal of the game in 18 Premier League matches this season – more than any other side.
- No team has scored more goals from corners in the Premier League this season than West Ham (eight, level with Chelsea).
- Declan Rice’s goal saw West Ham become the 20th and final side to both take and score a Premier League penalty this season.
Sheffield United return to London for a huge game with fellow strugglers Fulham on Saturday (20:00 GMT), before West Ham host Tottenham in a London derby on Sunday (12:00).
West Ham United
- 31JohnsonSubstituted forFredericksat 90+2′minutes
- 10LanziniSubstituted forNobleat 63′minutes
- 11LingardSubstituted forBenrahmaat 82′minutes
- 6BashamBooked at 39mins
- 12EganSubstituted forJagielkaat 85′minutes
- 7LundstramBooked at 87mins
- 16NorwoodSubstituted forMcBurnieat 62′minutes
- Simon Hooper
Match ends, West Ham United 3, Sheffield United 0.
Second Half ends, West Ham United 3, Sheffield United 0.
Goal! West Ham United 3, Sheffield United 0. Ryan Fredericks (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Saïd Benrahma.
Foul by David McGoldrick (Sheffield United).
Mark Noble (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. John Lundstram (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Enda Stevens.
Substitution, West Ham United. Ryan Fredericks replaces Ben Johnson.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Tomas Soucek.
Attempt blocked. David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Jayden Bogle.
John Lundstram (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by John Lundstram (Sheffield United).
Ben Johnson (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Phil Jagielka replaces John Egan because of an injury.
Substitution, West Ham United. Saïd Benrahma replaces Jesse Lingard.
Attempt missed. Jesse Lingard (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Ben Osborn with a cross.
Foul by Billy Sharp (Sheffield United).
Craig Dawson (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Billy Sharp (Sheffield United).