West Ham midfielder is looking at a top half finish

Hammers Gary O’Neil is no longer looking over his shoulder after the team’s recent good form.

Hammers midfielder Gary O’Neil believes that the team should be looking upwards rather than over their shoulders in the Premier League after their battling 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

The 27-year-old former Middlesbrough and Portsmouth player, returned to the West Ham starting line-up at Tottenham and provided a solidity and a balance that helped to keep the home side at bay.

“It was hard work, but it was a good team performance,” said O’Neil. “It was not the prettiest, Tottenham worked us hard, they are a good team at home and they had a lot of the play, but we stuck at it and it is a vital point in the end.”

Tottenham dominated for much of the game, but O’Neil insists that every player in the team put in a great shift to prevent the home side from grabbing that all-important goal.

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“They had a couple of clear-cut chances, though probably not as many as they regularly create here,” he insisted. “I’ve watched them play against some of the top sides in Europe and they have created more than they did against us.

“So the overall team performance and the protection that the front lads and the midfield gave us was good, but when needed, ‘Greeny’ and the back lads were fantastic.”

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While Freddie Piquionne and Victor Obinna are more attack-minded wide men, O’Neil was able to help out Lars Jacobsen on the right to a much greater extent, though having missed the last two matches, he admitted that he was certainly tired by the end.

“Obviously the gaffer changed it in the league against Stoke, and then I was cup-tied so that was three weeks without a game, so I was feeling it a little bit towards the end today,” he said.

“In the last 15 minutes the legs were a little bit heavy, but it felt good. I thought that we did well down our side, me and Lars contained Gareth Bale as much as possible. We tried to stop the supply a bit and then get forward.

“I thought we could have done a little bit more with the ball, but we worked so hard without it, it was very difficult once we did get it, to have enough movement to cause them problems.”

Saturday’s draw continued West Ham’s impressive run in the Premier League and O’Neil has been impressed by the way the team have gone about things.

“We played well against Liverpool where we controlled the game,” he said. “We created chances and passed it well. Against Spurs was the other side of things and something we have perhaps been lacking.

“It is the side of us where we dig in to get a clean sheet. You need everyone to work hard and they did, I think it was a fantastic team performance.”

And now it seems for O’Neil that it is onwards and upwards.

“Everyone has spoken about how difficult the games are that we’ve got coming up, but I think it is important that we keep our tally ticking over,” he insisted.

“We’ve had a good spell since Blackpool really and it is important that we just keep that going.

“I think we can easily pull away you know? You start looking up and the teams in 11th and 12th don’t look too far away. So it is important that no matter how tough the games are, we try and get something out of them.”

Positive thinking gone mad? Perhaps we shall see after Manchester United have come to Upton Park.

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