Nigel On Highbury Bow

Nigel Winterburn insists there was no real sentiment as he left the pitch at Highbury to tumultuous applause for probably the last time in his illustrious career.

Last off the field, he was applauded from all four corners of the ground, but uppermost in his mind was the fact that his side had just lost.

"I said before it was a difficult game for me but I had to go out and show that I was committed to West Ham, and hopefully I did that. Overall I am just disappointed that we lost," he stresses.

"I really enjoyed the game but it was obviously not what we wanted - to lose after containing them for so long. It was just one slip, and against Arsenal the game is more or less over then with them scoring quickly soon after.

"When they scored the first I think it was a great through-ball, but if you are critical you could say we dropped too deep and maybe we could have cut it out - but that is why Arsenal are so good, because they keep coming at you.

"In the first half we contained them and had a couple of really good chances with the 'goal' that we think was in, but they are little things that sometimes happen.

"Overall I think we coped quite well, but with their power in the second half they just kept coming at us, and they looked like what they are, a team going for the championship - it is hard to contain those sorts of teams when they are on form."

As for the 'goal' that was chalked off, Nigel says: "You just have to forget that because it is gone. It's not given, and while we were all disappointed, these things sometimes happen and you have to get on with it and accept it.

"It may happen to a team against us another day and we'll get away with it. It is no good looking back and saying 'it could've been' - it wasn't, it stayed 0-0."

When he does finally hang up his boots in a year's time, at least he can look back with pride in how his former fans treated him, if not the result.

He admits: "I can't hope for any better than that. It is a fantastic feeling to get that reception when you walk out, and especially at the end."

Now he is tipping the Gunners for the title, and adds: "It is my old club, and though I wanted to beat them, if anyone should win it I would like them to do it after being there 13 years.

"They seem very powerful and determined at the moment and if they don't do it I am sure Arsene Wenger will have a few words with them."

Nigel says it was a case of defeat but not disgrace, and is looking forward to Saturday's long trip north to Newcastle already.

He concludes: "Probably a lot of good things came out of the game; the work rate and desire of the players I don't think could ever be questioned, but Newcastle is another difficult one against another side in the top four, so we will see what happens."