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2013-08-20T07:39:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:10:31

Joey's joy at winning start

For any defender, a clean sheet and a victory are the twin aims whenever they step onto the pitch.

To that end, Joey O'Brien enjoyed a perfect afternoon in West Ham United's 2-0 Barclays Premier League opening day win over Cardiff City at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

The Republic of Ireland international was at his solid best against the Bluebirds, nullifying the threat of the Championship title winners alongside his tried and trusted colleagues Guy Demel, James Collins and Winston Reid.

Speaking to West Ham TV, O'Brien revealed that the Hammers have been set the target of eclipsing last season's record of eleven Barclays Premier League clean sheets this term.

"The object of the season is to get more clean sheets than last season and we started with a clean sheet on Saturday, so we got that and attacking-wise we created plenty of chances and probably should have won by a couple more," he said.

"Just towards the end the big man [Rudy Gestede] came on and they chucked it up a bit more. He's a big lad and he's good in the air so that caused us a few little problems, but that's all it was really. I don't think Jussi Jaaskelainen really had a save to make.

"I was delighted to get a clean sheet and a good performance to start the season at home. It was a good day for us."

O'Brien was also pleased to rekindle his productive partnership with winger Matt Jarvis down the left flank, with the No7 chalking up his first assist of the season within 13 minutes by setting up Joe Cole's opener.

"He is a smashing player, as I've said before, and full-backs must dread playing against him just when they see his name on the teamsheet," the No17 confirmed. "With the way he plays, he is so direct and there are probably not many wingers like Matt in the Premier League.

"He's a really, really good asset for us. Last season, he created a lot of chances and it's good to see one go into the back off the net from one of his crosses.

"I was delighted because I think he's a smashing player, like I said, so hopefully his confidence will grow and he can play better and better."

Kevin Nolan added a second goal late on to cement Saturday's victory in a game that saw manager Sam Allardyce select eleven players who were at the Club last season.

However, with the likes of Stewart Downing, Razvan Rat and Adrian on the bench and Andy Carroll soon to return from injury, O'Brien believes West Ham have more strength in depth than they had last term.

Joey O'Brien

"It was like that last year and it's the same again this year," he observed. "There are a few who have come in, so it's hard [to keep your place], but once you're out there you want to play well and as a back four you want to keep clean sheets and do well going forward.

"Modibo Maiga played on Saturday and I was delighted with the way he played. He didn't get much football last season, so it was great to see him play well and be the main man out there."

With the summer signing of Romania captain Rat, O'Brien might have been forgiven for thinking his days as West Ham's left-back were numbered, but he was selected on Saturday and is determined to keep his place in the starting XI.

"[Saturday's team selection] probably had something to do with how it went last season and the manager not wanting to change anything on the first day and seeing how it was," he said. "I was delighted to get the nod.

"Roland is a smashing player and George McCartney is on his way back as well, so hopefully I can stay there or whoever comes in can play well."

O'Brien will be confident of retaining his place at Newcastle United on Saturday, when West Ham return to a ground where they chalked up a superb 1-0 victory last season. The 27-year-old played an instrumental role in the success, setting up the winner for Nolan with a wayward shot that was turned in by the captain.

"It is a very hard place to go, but we'd take what happened last season and if Kev could score again that would be great," he enthused. "We're going up there setting off to keep a clean sheet and we'll see how we go from there.

"That will be aim and hopefully we can defend the way we did against Cardiff and get a result."

Cheltenham Town

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