Potts honest in defeat
Dan Potts admits his side's performance wasn't up to scratch in their defeat
Dan Potts offered an honest assessment of his side's performance after
captaining the Development Squad in their 1-0 defeat against Blackburn
Rovers at Rush Green on Friday afternoon. The young Hammers went down to a
single goal which arrived just after the hour mark and proved too much for
the home side to claw back. The decisive strike by Potts' opposite number
Darragh Lenihan stemmed from a Rovers' free-kick, and the defender felt his
side hadn't done enough to warrant a different outcome. He told West Ham TV:
"I'm very disappointed," he explained. "We came into the game wanting to get
the three points and the win. "We felt that being at home and coming off the
defeat at Bolton, we definitely felt that we would come here and give it our
best shot to get the three points. "Saying that, I don't think we played
particularly well and I don't think we really deserved the three points. The
next best thing would have been the 0-0 and to come away with a point, but
we let ourselves down at a set-piece and that's the way the game ended."
The manner of the goal was particularly galling for Potts and the rest of
the defence with the defining moment coming from a set-piece. Potts had
marshalled the defence well up to that point, but was left to rue how the
winning goal came about. "Playing at the back you pride yourself on clean
sheets, so the disappointing thing from my point of view was that we
conceded from a set-piece. "They came here, had good shape about them and
played on the counter attack. Obviously it's frustrating for us and we've
got to have the know-how and the ability to break that down, which I believe
we have got. "Full credit to them. They came here with a game plan and their
game plan worked better than ours. They're going home with the three points
and we're going home thinking about what-ifs and what we could have done to
get the three points ourselves."
Defeat dents the Hammers' hopes of finishing in the top half of the Barclays
Under-21 Premier League table as they bid to secure a top-eleven finish for
when the league splits into two divisions next season. The U21s travel north
to play Sunderland on Thursday in their final match of the league season,
and Potts has targeted nothing less than a win against the Mackems. "The
emphasis is on Sunderland next week for sure. We'll regroup after this and
then we'll be going up to Sunderland to come back with the three points like
Blackburn have today. "After this, the emphasis definitely has to be on
trying to come away from Sunderland with something. "The lads know their
games, they know their strengths and I think you can see that when we all
play to our individual strengths, that it's a good group and a good changing
room. "Off the ball as well when everyone works hard for each other its
shows and nine times out of ten we come away with the result that we're
looking for. Hopefully it will be one of those performances."
Noble craves top ten finish
Mark Noble wants three points at Arsenal to edge closer to the top ten
Mark Noble believes the Hammers can edge closer to the top ten with victory
at Arsenal on Tuesday. The Gunners reached the FA Cup final on Saturday, but
Noble says the Hammers possess the ability and self-belief to pull off a
shock result at the Emirates Stadium. He thought the performance in defeat
to league leaders Liverpool merited more and if they put in a similar
display they will be rewarded. "Against Liverpool we put in one of the best
first halves we've played this season," he said. "We were unlucky to lose
the game with a penalty that wasn't, but it was nice to go out there knowing
we were near on safe and could enjoy it. "I thought that showed and
hopefully we can get the same attitude on Tuesday. "Our aim since the start
of the season has been to at least match last year's finish. "We didn't have
the best of starts, we know that, but since Christmas we've really dug in
and put the points on the board. That's what has made us half-safe now.
"There's five games left that we need to get points from and come tenth
Noble spent some time at Arsenal at the very start of his development and he
has fond memories of going back to north London and winning in the 2006/07
campaign. He added "I was at Arsenal as a young kid before I went to West
Ham and they probably did develop me as a player a bit. I've won there once
before during the great escape we had and who says we can't do it again?"
Arsenal v West Ham
13 April 2014
Last updated at 19:11
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
Venue: Emirates Stadium Date: Tuesday, 15 April
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud looks set to be recalled after beginning
their FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan on the bench. Wojciech Szczesny is
also expected to return in goal, with Aaron Ramsey continuing after his
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce must decide whether to change the side beaten
2-1 by Liverpool last time out. Matt Jarvis, Joe Cole, Antonio Nocerino and
Roger Johnson are amongst those pushing for a recall.
Buoyed by a place in this year's FA Cup final, albeit on penalties following
their unconvincing performance against Championship side and 2013 winners
Wigan, Arsenal face a crucial London derby against West Ham looking to end a
four-match winless league run. A much-needed victory would see the Gunners
regain the final Champions League qualifying place from Everton for 24 hours
at least. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said: "The win (Wigan) will
rebuild the confidence which was very jaded, I'm confident we will respond
well. It will give us a target for the end of the season and it allows us to
focus on the Premier League in a more serene way. "We had the nerve and the
mental strength that has been questioned recently, that's why I'm happy they
gave that response.
FA Cup penalty shoot-out hero Lukasz Fabianski added: "It picks up the club
and the fans, it gives us more belief that we can manage first of all to
finish in the top four, and then hopefully to win the final. West Ham have
had nine days to prepare for this fixture and Sam Allardyce's side will
almost certainly be prepared and up for the challenge of putting Wenger's
men further under the microscope. Hammers defender Roger Johnson was part of
the Birmingham City side that upset Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final. He
has reflected on the Gunners' unpredictability this season. "I do think
they're very beatable, as we saw the other day against Everton. "Yes, we'll
be underdogs because we're playing Arsenal at Arsenal, but look at the
Liverpool game (earlier this month). They are top of the league and I
thought we matched them all over really and should have come out of the game
with a result."
Arsenal have won six successive league matches against West Ham and are
unbeaten in the last 12 meetings in all competitions since a 1-0 home defeat
in April 2007.
West Ham's only goal in their last five visits to the Emirates Stadium was
scored by Jack Collison in a 5-1 defeat last season.
The Gunners have only taken two points from their last four matches. They
have not gone five league games without a win since registering five
successive draws in January and February 2009.
Arsene Wenger's side have gone 15 home games unbeaten in the league since
the opening-day defeat by Aston Villa.
They have earned more points than any other side this season after opening
the scoring: 55 from 20 games.
The Hammers have won seven of their last 13 league fixtures, having only
triumphed in three of the previous 20.
They have dropped 17 points from winning positions. Only Southampton (18
points) have fared worse.
West Ham's tally of 13 clean sheets is bettered only by Chelsea.
WEST HAM DEVELOPMENT SQUAD INJURIES
By Sean Whetstone 13 Apr 2014 at 08:25
West Ham Till I Die
Our West Ham Development Squad lost to bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers
at Friday lunchtime despite drafting Joe Cole in to their depeated squad.
Blackburn U21"s have only managed two wins all season until their victory on
Striker Jaanai Gordon, our £3.5m investment from Peterborough is out for the
the rest of the season with a hamstring injury; he previously suffered from
a groin injury and broke his leg while at Peterborough. He has managed just
two development squad appearances since signing at the beginning of January
with no goals as yet.
Elliot Lee who has recently signed a new two and a half year contract
extension is also out the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury.
Lee has made 14 appearances this season scoring 8 goals. Leo Chambers who
has played 13 times this season is also missing with a muscle tear.
Dylan Tombides remains unavailable due to a relapse of his testicular
cancer. Pelly Ruddock was sold to Luton in January for a nominal fee after
making 10 appearances and scoring two goals for the dev squad this season
and Abdul Razak was released after after 4 weeks after an unsuccessful loan
period. Blair Turgott, George Moncurr, Sean Maquire and Paul Mccallum remain
unavailable as they are all out on loan until the end of the season.
The U21 side have slipped down to 9th in the Barclays U21 Premier League
table Liverpool top the table followed by Fulham, Southampton and Chelsea.
Same old story in Emirates test
Posted by Peter Thorne
Sam Allardyce's West Ham face FA Cup finalists Arsenal on Tuesday night. The
inevitability of the comment was such that I was actually sitting waiting
for it. Sure enough, the little epithet duly arrived from the TV commentator
during the first half of the extra 30 minutes of Saturday evening's FA cup
semi-final between Arsenal and Wigan: "The only person likely to be happy
with extra time is Sam Allardyce, whose West Ham United play Arsenal on
If only things were that simple.
There's no doubt that the penalty shoot-out pressure would have taken
something out of the Arsenal squad, but it's equally likely that the boost
in overcoming Wigan Athletic and making an FA Cup final -- that they are now
confidently expected to win -- will revitalize a Gunners side that had
seemed to have run out of steam in the last few weeks. The promise of a cup
final will surely provide an incentive that will see them as difficult to
beat as ever. For although the Hammers have provided Arsenal with a good
number of shocks over the years -- last team to win at the old Highbury,
first to win at the Emirates and, of course, that win back in 1980 -- all
too often the north London side, who can call on better players in a larger
squad, have bested the Upton Park outfit quite considerably. There have been
one or two defeats over the past few years that have figured among the
season's worst results for the Hammers.
I'd imagine Allardyce would have gleefully noted how Arsenal struggled to
break down a resolute Wigan team and have hopes of emulating that, but even
with the pressure off in the relegation dogfight -- although not
mathematically safe, Swansea and Aston Villa would seem to be the teams now
looking over their shoulder -- the Hammers would view even a point as a good
result against a team still trying to make sure of Champions League
Normally at this stage of the season supporters would be hoping to see one
or two new faces coming in from the development squad but -- true to form --
it's good to see the injury crisis that regularly strikes the senior squad
is burgeoning at youth level too. It's comforting to know that youngsters
are being shown only too well what is likely to happen if they go all the
way in their careers at Upton Park.
Striker Jaanai Gordon, bought from Peterborough earlier this campaign, is
out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury while Elliot Lee, who
has just signed a new two-and-a-half year contract extension, has also been
ruled out for the campaign with ankle ligament problems. Elsewhere, Leo
Chambers has a muscle tear, while others considered on the edge of the
squad: George Moncur, Paul McCallum, Blair Turgott and Sean Maguire are all
out on loan until the end of the season.
So, don't expect too many surprises at the Emirates; Big Sam will set the
team up to defend in depth, hit on the break and try to disrupt the Gunners
rhythm in midfield. In other words: same old, same old. Ironically, the only
question will actually be: have Arsenal's semi-final exploits taken anything
out of the team?
Taylor: I started at Luton cleaning the toilets. Now teaching the next
generation of youngsters has made me a better player
By LAURIE WHITWELL
PUBLISHED: 22:34, 13 April 2014 | UPDATED: 22:34, 13 April 2014
On a bitterly cold night there are plenty of ways Matt Taylor might choose
to keep warm. But rather than putting the slippers on in front of the fire
he is out on the training pitches, coaching what he hopes are the next batch
of professional footballers to come through Luton's academy. 'What we're
working on tonight is playing out from the back in the right way,' he says,
breath visible amid the darkness as he surveys the Under 15s side. 'It's
great for me because it's opened my eyes to a different side of football.
'It would be nice to pass on some of my knowledge. When you're doing a
session and can take 15 seconds to practise what you preach – that is a big
thing.' This, Barnfield College, is the place Taylor started his career,
first under Lennie Lawrence then Joe Kinnear, and where he has turned for a
future beyond playing.
'By no means am I near finishing,' he insists. 'I still feel as fit as ever.
What I want to do is to give myself options. I want to be able to make the
progression from playing into whatever it is a smooth one.' He completed his
Level Two coaching badge in 2011 and is enrolled on the UEFA B course that
starts the day after the final match of the season. Taylor, 32, is enjoying
a renaissance at West Ham, selected by Sam Allardyce in central midfield
alongside Mark Noble for 10 of the past 11 Premier League matches which have
yielded 19 points. Their partnership has been key to the club's rise from
18th to 11th since securing the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge that brought
Jose Mourinho's barbs about nineteenth-century football. 'You can't go to
Chelsea and outplay them at their game. That's suicide,' says Taylor. 'Eden
Hazard and Willian are unbelievable footballers, but they tend to come in
the pitch rather than stay out wide so we believed we could frustrate them
by playing narrow. The manager gave us a very good game plan. 'The reaction
in the dressing room afterwards was fantastic. It gave us the kick to pick
up four consecutive wins.'
Rather than distract from the fight against relegation, he feels the
coaching at Luton, which began last year, has improved him as a player,
offering him a wider picture and greater understanding of the game. His
commitment is underlined by the weekly sessions he puts on whatever the
weather. He also manages matches at the weekend when he can. Having a
current Premier League footballer teach a young group is unusual and
certainly seems to add extra impetus. Taylor was just a year older than the
boys he is overseeing when he signed his first forms at Luton and he can
reflect on how times have changed.
'My education through football was very different to the way that players
now are educated,' he says. 'We never used to leave the training ground till
5 o' clock every day. We would train in the morning, have some lunch, then
do all of our jobs. 'The worst job was cleaning the toilets in the away team
dressing room. At Luton the young pros changed in there then travelled. They
didn't have a huge amount of respect, as you can imagine. 'Bullied is
completely the wrong word, but you knew the hierarchy. At that age you dared
not look at the first team players. They would leave the dressing room in a
right mess. 'But as a 16-year-old that responsibility was a good thing. The
further up the pyramid you go it really makes you appreciate how anything
you can think of is done for you.
'It was different back then, but so was a lot of life – you have to move
with the times.' Taylor is one of a number of Luton graduates to play in the
top-flight. Jack Wilshere spent time there before joining Arsenal, while
Curtis Davies and Kelvin Davis are others. Taylor left Luton for Portsmouth
in 2002 with a tribunal setting a £750,000 transfer fee, leading his
then-manager Kinnear to remark that 'at least Dick Turpin had the decency to
wear a mask.' It was a move made to step up in level rather than earnings –
the contract offer was the same as at Kennilworth Road – and Taylor can take
Kinnear's words as a compliment.
Harry Redknapp had a similar air of authority at Portsmouth – but also an
ability to squeeze every last drop from ageing acquisitions. 'He is an
exceptional man manager and gets the best out of players. He did it umpteen
times at Portsmouth, signing players who others thought were past it.'
Taylor has picked up things from all he has played for, including Sam
Allardyce. 'If you ask Sam a question you get an honest answer, you can't
beat honesty in football.
'His job was under scrutiny from outside the club when we were in the
relegation zone but the chairmen stuck by him. It's a decision that's proved
invaluable.' It was at Portsmouth that Taylor made his name, scoring two
wonder goals that remain a couple of the purest strikes seen in the Premier
League. There was a thunderous hit from 45-yards at the Stadium of Light in
October 2005, then an even more audacious volley from just outside the
centre-circle at Fratton Park against Everton in December 2006. 'Kanu
flicked it up and it was just one of those instinctive things. I thought,
"Why not?" I hit it and it flew in. It could have easily ended up in Row Z
and people would have said, "What on earth is he doing?" It is a memory that
will stick with me for the rest of my life. 'The Sunderland one I went for
because there was nothing else on. I put a bit of bend on it, outside of the
foot. I can't do Ronaldo stepovers but what I have been blessed with is an
ability to strike the ball nicely.' Taylor also holds the rather surprising
record of having scored at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, Anfield and the
Emirates during his career – a feat few can match.
Outside of the game he is in the early stages of setting up a branch of
Arundel Wealth to help young players with financial advice. 'Large sums of
money now are being bandied around in the Premier League and there are
people out there who are not as honest as you might think,' he says. 'I had
good advice throughout my career and I would like others to have that same
opportunity.' At home he is raising three children under the age of eight
with his wife Hannah, his childhood sweetheart from Oxford. But it is the
youngsters on the pitch under his guidance tonight. 'These boys have got
more attitude than my kids at the moment,' he laughs. 'Although that's quite
good fun, they've got a little bit about them. I really enjoy it.'
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