December 9 2013 Latest news:
Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Hammers defender Guy Demel is delighted with the start the team have made this season
One of the secrets of West Ham’s success last season was the strength of their defence. Forget that nightmare at Arsenal when the wheels came off, aside from that there were 11 clean sheets in the Premier League for the Hammers and that was one of the keys to their final placing of 10th.
And already this season, the defence has started in top form, keeping two clean sheets and restricting the opposition to just one shot on target, something that has delighted full back Guy Demel who figured in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
“It is a perfect start for the defence, but it is also a perfect start for the whole team, because the defence starts with the front man,” said the Ivory Coast international full back, who has now chalked up 44 appearances in claret and blue since his arrival from Hamburg in the summer of 2011.
“We could have defended a little better in the second half, but we managed to restrict them to just one shot on target and that was a cross, so it is good, but we must keep working and try to get better with every game.”
Manager Sam Allardyce brought in a new full back in Razvan Rat and a new keeper in Adrian during the summer, but to many people’s surprise, he has stuck with the back five that was so successful last season.
Demel though, is not surprised at the manager’s consistency.
“I think we all know that last season we were good as a team and the manager told us that too,” explained the 32-year-old. “The defence played really good and helped the team to 10th position, so why change it?
“The new players have arrived and they are good players who are going to improve the squad here. They will get a chance over the season, but for now, we stick to what we know and what has worked in the past and at the moment we have started really well with two clean sheets.”
He is right. This defence most league games last season and with Hammer of the Year Winston Reid partnering the never-say-die James Collins in the middle, along with the attacking Demel and the dependable Joey O’Brien, it is a back line that has given goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen confidence and helped him improve his performances.
They did have to cope with some pressure from Newcastle on Saturday, but seemed to cope with it well.
“The defence played well, but the manager thought we dropped too deep in the last 15 minutes and I think he was probably right,” smiled the likeable defender. “But when the team is confident, sometimes that is the way to play and we got the point today and we need to respect the point.
“It is never easy coming away in the Premier League and though coming to places like Newcastle with all their fans doesn’t put any extra pressure on us, it does give the home team energy to keep coming forward, which is not easy for us when they are still coming hard after 80 minutes.”
Demel was partnered on the right hand side by new boy Stewart Downing from the start, while Joe Cole replaced him during the second half, so is there a big difference between the two?
“Yes they are very different,” explained Demel. “Joe Cole is a very tricky player and likes to come inside a lot, while Stewart is so good at running with the ball and he is very difficult to overlap – he is so fast!”
Demel did manage an overlap in the first half, crossing perfectly for Modibo Maiga, who could only head wide and the defender knows exactly where West Ham need to improve on the road.
“That was a good chance and we had a couple of good chances in the first half,” he said. “This is the thing when you come to places like Newcastle, you have to take the chances you get, but perhaps we have kept the goals for the next game against Stoke City.”
Maybe, but Demel is right. With the defence looking so solid, if West Ham can be more clinical in front of goal, then surely the victories on the road will follow.
Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan is sent off as their 50-year wait for a win at Anfield continues