David Moyes is confident that there is plenty more to come from his West Ham side after the improvements made since he returned to the club almost a year ago.
When Moyes was re-appointed on December 29 last year, his first task was to avoid the drop but having achieved that with a strong run of form post-lockdown, he has overseen a positive start to this season with the Hammers taking 21 points from their first 13 games.
That puts them only a point behind Monday’s opponents Chelsea, ranked among the title contenders, having taken points off Manchester City, Tottenham, and Leicester among others already this season.
“We’ve worked hard,” he said. “We wanted to try and improve. When I took over just about this time a year ago we were in the bottom three going into the first game, but we’ve made improvements, we’ve made good recruitments and it’s given us a chance.
“But more importantly the players got themselves in good condition with their fitness levels and we improved our attitude, all round we have improved.
“We’ve improved but it’s small steps and we’re far from the finished article and I can see lots of bits we can improve but that takes time.”
Some of the work has been done in the transfer windows with significant fees spent on the likes of Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen, but Moyes also pointed to progress made with the existing squad.
“We needed to change the attitude regarding resilience and sticking at it,” he said. “You can’t buy it all in all the time, you have to work on it. It can take time.
“We’ve had a good opening third of the season and we want to keep it going. The additions we have made to the squad have helped and I think we’ll need to look to do that in the future. It’s a continual process of trying to build.
“It doesn’t happen overnight and you can’t expect it to always go in the right direction. It’s not an easy job but I’m really pleased with how the players have done. They’ve been exceptional and long may it continue.”
But Moyes admitted plenty could still change. The busy festive period is often seen as the midway point of the season, but given the late start teams are only a third of the way through their campaigns this time around, facing a workload which may yet catch up with them.
“It’s something the players might feel the affects of later in the year and it will feel like a long season,” Moyes said.
“I’ve really enjoyed the season, we’ve done very well and the players have had a great run of games where we’ve shown a lot of good characteristics, playing well, being resilient and making lots of improvements.
“But there’s only a third of the season gone and we’ve got to keep it going…
“I’m not sure there’s a great deal between a lot of teams around the middle. Maybe from about third right down to about 15th or 16th, there’s very little between them.
“There are a few at the top who are better and one or two at the bottom who might get cast adrift but at the moment there’s very little between the teams.
“The competitive nature of the Premier League has always been there but no more so than this season.”