Upson: ‘Survival this season will be West Ham’s best achievement’

Hammers captain Matthew Upson believes that staving off relegation is going to be harder than the two he has been involved with so far.

WEST HAM skipper Matty Upson has already been through two Premier League survival battles in his time at Upton Park, but he insists that this one is going to be the toughest of all.

The former Birmingham City and Arsenal centre back was forced to sit out most of the ‘Great Escape’ of 2007 with injury, but he was at the heart of things last season as West Ham narrowly avoided the drop.

The England international knows that there is a long, uphill struggle ahead of them.

“I think we are in the worst position at this stage of the season that I have experienced,” said the 31-year-old, who has now made 135 appearances in claret and blue since his arrival in January 2007.

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“It would be a huge achievement for us to maintain safety this year. It is not unachievable and I think we all still believe that we can do it, but it is going to be a monumental effort and we are ready for the fight.”

The task would have been made a little easier had they secured the three points at Goodison Park on Saturday, but much to Upson’s frustration, they were unable to hang on to their lead.

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“I just felt that it was a game where maybe we needed to seal the win a bit more in the first half,” he said, following the 2-2 draw.

“It would have been nice to go in at the break winning 2-0 and that would have made it a difficult job for Everton to come back at us.

“If Freddie Piquionne’s header goes in it is certainly a tougher job for them. You go in at 2-0 and if they throw too many forward in the second half, we could maybe have broken away ourselves and scored again.”

The late demise was even more frustrating when you consider how well West Ham played in the first half.

“I thought we played some good counter-attacking football which was the way we set out to play,” explained the skipper. “You come here and they play at a high tempo, get it wide and try to get the ball into the box.

“Everton are high energy, so we knew they were going to try and put a hold on us, but I thought we dealt with it well and when we got the opportunity we passed it and we looked dangerous.

“There was some clever passing from Scott Parker and Mark Noble which put us in a couple of times. We scored one goal and possibly we could have had a couple more.”

Both Upson and in particular, James Tomkins alongside him, put in excellent performances at Goodison, but still West Ham conceded two goals in the second half.

It is something that is certainly puzzling the West Ham captain.

“I think perhaps there is a little bit of a confidence problem, but there are things like Jonathan Spector slipping over on their second goal as well, so some of it is bad luck,” he said.

“It just seems that all the tiny little defects we do have are being exploited all the time. When they are bombarding our box, we have got to try and keep our shape a bit.

“It is difficult when the ball is crossed in, we are heading out and it comes in again, and I felt we got a little bit ragged with our positioning.

“We didn’t cover the areas we needed to, especially the first one when the guy struck it from the edge of the box with a lot of space, but we were unlucky, I think Freddie got a little touch on it and it is just all these little things, they all add up and it has cost us two goals.”

Many fans would certainly have settled for a point before Saturday’s clash, but Upson was clearly disappointed.

“I certainly wouldn’t have taken the point before the match because we need to win matches,” he insisted. “In the position we are in, I think we need to come to places like this and win.

“We are disappointed with the result. To come away from Everton with a 2-2 draw and say we are disappointed is a testament to how well we’ve played.”

Another game, another two points dropped, but despite the huge task they face, Upson still believes that they can survive.

“I think you only have to watch us play today. We had a lot of hunger, a lot of desire to want and win the ball and get hold of it,” said the skipper.

“If we maintain that level of attitude and performance, I think we can accumulate the points to stay up.”

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