Hammer Upson’s miraculous ‘recovery’ is huge boost for survival
West Ham skipper Matty Upson put in a superb performance against Liverpool on his return to the starting line-up.
FOR A PLAYER who is supposed to be out for the rest of the season, Matthew Upson’s performance against Liverpool was nothing short of miraculous.
The West Ham captain has been missing since he limped off before half time in the home defeat by Birmingham City, but it was like he had never been away as he dominated the Hammers penalty area with perhaps his best performance of the season.
“I must say I surprised myself,” said the 31-year-old England international after he completed 90 minutes. “I don’t know where the report came from that said I was out for the season, but it was a bit premature.
“I didn’t want to say anything about it before today, but there is nothing like playing 90 minutes to put it to bed.”
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Upson certainly put things to bed. At one point in the second half as Liverpool laid siege to the West Ham goal, he made four headed clearances within a minute to keep the visitors at bay.
Not bad for someone who had hardly trained all week.
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“I trained a couple of days and my Achilles is a little bit sore,” he admitted. “But I’m pleased with it. It’s a recurrence of an old thing, it’s not an injury as such, it’s a bit of a niggle which is causing tension in the Achilles, but it will be fine.”
West Ham have had a whole host of central defensive partnerships this season, but it seems that Upson and youngster James Tomkins may be the best of them – both were superb on Sunday as Upson was quick to stress.
“We had a good solid day today,” said Upson, who has now made 138 appearances in claret and blue.
“We had a good understanding and worked together well. I thought in the first half we did press them well and didn’t give them an opportunity to create space.”
That said, the Hammers still let a goal in, meaning they have kept just three league clean sheets all season and it is something that frustrated the captain, especially considering they had dominated the first half.
“I spoke about this at half time,” revealed the skipper. “I wanted to see us take it to them again in the second half. I didn’t want us to sit off on the edge of our box.
“But we didn’t quite retain possession as much as we did first half, we were deep and it’s a knock-on effect, which is why we spent too long at the edge of our box, which was dangerous.”
It certainly is for the Hammers. Twice at St Andrews this season they have succumbed to second-half fight-backs by conceding the initiative and defending too deeply and on another day, the same thing could have happened against Liverpool.
Slowly things are turning around for the Hammers and Upson believes that it is the experienced players who hold the key to their survival.
“It is a boost when we have good characters and experienced players to come in,” he said. “It’s crucial to have older heads and it’s nice for the manager to have selection problems, that is if we can keep everybody on the pitch until the end of the season.”
Upson knows just how tough it is going to be though and he is convinced that West Ham will have to cause upsets bigger than Sunday’s win, if they are to stay in the Premier League.
“If you look at our fixtures, we have to beat teams people don’t expect us to beat,” he said.
“We are running out of opportunities top play the teams around us and those points have to come from elsewhere, today was a perfect example for us.
“It’s as tight as ever basically. Look at the four W’s at the bottom, one of those four is going to stay up. Other teams can get dragged in if we can get back-to-back victories and that will be another huge boost for us.”
West Ham have already had a huge boost with the return of Upson to the starting line-up and if he can stay fit, then the Hammers will have their best chance of survival.