Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as his side go in search of the win at West Ham that would catapult them into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
Villa could move two points clear of Manchester City, who currently occupy fourth, and just a point behind Arsenal
if they can beat the struggling Hammers.
The battle to break into the top four looks like being fiercer than ever this season and O'Neill thinks that can only be
good for the Premier League as a whole.
From City down, six teams are separated by just three points and O'Neill said: "I am not surprised how tight it is and it will be good for the league if it remains tight.
"I have always felt this season that Manchester City would be strong challengers for the top four and so that has proven to be the case.
"Tottenham Hotspur have started very strongly but have had a bit of a hiccup just recently and you would always expect Everton, who have had a number of problems injury wise, to be coming back into it again.
"So I am not surprised but there are only 10 games gone and the top sides usually find themselves at the top."
As for Villa's own prospects, O'Neill is staying calm and he added: "There is a chance to go fourth in the league and the consequence of it is that is fine. I don't adhere to this thought that we might falter in any aspect."
The clash with West Ham will end a gruelling run of four successive away games in the space of just 12 days for Villa and O'Neill admits it has been a tough test for his squad.
Villa should originally have faced West Ham in the first week of the season but the game had to be re-arranged due to
Villa's Europa League tie against Rapid Vienna.
O'Neill admits the spell of games on the road, that has included league matches at Wolves and Everton either side of a penalty shoot out success at Sunderland in Carling Cup, has tested his team.
But they are unbeaten in that period and full of confidence ahead of the game at Upton Park.
He added: "I will be glad to see this run end. By the time we set foot in Villa Park again at the weekend to play against
Bolton, it will be three weeks since we have played a home game.
"I accept the point that when a game has been postponed, the Premier League like to get it played as quickly as possible at a convenient date.
"But I wouldn't be all that sure that it was the most convenient date for us.
"However, playing on another date before Christmas might have meant West Ham playing three successive home games and that might have been tough on their supporters.
"But it has been particularly tough for us and our supporters. Plus the fact that you add in the cup game against Sunderland.
"Can you imagine if we had started off this run by being beaten at Wolves?
"It would have been a long next three games. As it turns out we are still going in with plenty of confidence to West Ham."Reuse content