Green reigns supreme again

Robert Green is relishing the defensive dominance shown by West Ham United of late after yet another clean sheet at the weekend.

Only Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than the Hammers' rearguard this season - with the 12 goals against from 15 top-flight matches a testament to the strength of Green and the back four in front of him. As was the case in Sunday's 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers, six of those matches have finished with clean sheets - much to the No1's satisfaction.

"It's pleasing to keep clean sheets," he said. "As a keeper you're judged on that and as a back four we're judged on that. In that respect we're doing OK at the moment. Away from home it's that little bit easier. The game plans are a bit easier for us. We know teams are going to come and attack us because they fancy themselves at home."

Green is well aware the club need to reproduce some of their awayday resilience at the Boleyn Ground - and with cup and league home contests against Everton on Wednesday and Saturday, this week would be an ideal place to start. "At home it proves a little bit more difficult because we have to go and break teams down," he explained.

A strong defensive display begins with the forward line and Green believed the return of Dean Ashton - potentially alongside Carlton Cole - could only help, and not just in the goals he provides. "He's a big player. He's a focal point of the side. Coley's worked ever so well for the past few games while he's been in.

"Dean's another player you can work off and if I'm taking goal-kicks I know if I hit him he's going to bring it down and deal with the physical challenge of the players around him. He's a massive player and he's always going to make a big impact."

The words "massive player" and "big impact" would be well used as to describe Green himself, not that the modest 27-year-old would ever say so himself. A perfect illustration would be the thrilling save from Tugay on Sunday, just as the Blackburn Rovers midfielder seemed certain to turn an away victory into a draw.

"I didn't really see him hit it," Green said. "I knew it was going to my right and my thought process took a matter of seconds just saying 'dive, deal with it where it is when you're in midair' and thankfully I managed to do that. If it had swerved any more I was probably in trouble but it was a key moment in the game. It was just rewards for our defensive effort."

"It's a tough place to go but we put in a good performance in the first half. We got the goal and possibly sat back a bit too deep after that but away from home we've been defending well and that goal in football seems to just give you that bit of a edge in front of the back four and the midfield. It just gives them that extra yard to run."