Despite the slip in form in recent weeks, manager Sam Allardyce still believes a top eight finish is within the Irons’ grasp.

The squad spent the FA Cup weekend at a warm-weather training camp in Dubai with the manager spending his time plotting a return to winning ways. His optimism springs from recent gutsy performances if not the results. Last time out, they lost to Champions Elect Chelsea 1-0 in front of an east London crowd.

“Eighth for us is achievable, we should already be there,” he said. “We should have already secured a lot more points, but we haven’t and that shows you the frailties of the squad. Even though our performances have been excellent, our victories have turned into draws and because of that we have slipped down the league.

“So I know the frailties, I’ve seen them and know what we need to do so those frailties don’t appear next season. For now though it’s about these last 10 games, securing as many points as possible and trying to hit the target of eighth in the league.”

To bounce back immediately means overcoming the form club of the moment, Arsenal, who have already secured a Wembley slot in the semi-finals of FA Cup. The Irons lost 2-1 at the Boleyn and now face a tricky trip to the Emirates.

One player for whom the North London tie has special significance is Alex Song as he returns to his former club. He opted to stay away from the Dubai trip to concentrate on his return to full fitness.

He told the club’s website : “I need to come back at the top of my form. I have trained hard, so I’m very happy because the way we have trained here with the Under-21s, they are doing very well. I have worked very hard to come back to my level.

Of the Arsenal fixture he said: “They are one part of my life and, because I went there when I was 17, I always say it is my family.

“I know this is a special game for me, but that’s football and I have to take all the emotion out and just try to play my game and play the best football I can to help the team to win. I am focused on West Ham.”

Meanwhile, it’s been reported that the West Ham hierarchy are looking a possible successors to Big Sam if there is a parting of the ways in the summer.

Real Sociedad coach David Moyes is the current flavour of the month, overtaking former Hammers defender Slaven Bilic, currently in charge of Turkish side Besiktas.

The board and Allardyce are preparing for end-of-season talks about his future and whether the manager has met his pre-season targets.

But a shift to Moyes will prove tricky. The former Everton stalwart is keen stay in Spain and prove his worth after his bruising time at Manchester Utd – although his spell at Old Trafford is looking less catastrophic as Louis van Gaal struggles with the same challenges.

Either way, the management team will be looking for someone with significant Premier League experience to kick on from what should prove to be a better season for the Hammers.