Green delight at hat-trick

Three weeks ago, Robert Green could have been forgiven for wondering if he would ever keep another clean sheet.

For more than eight months and 24 Premier League matches, the West Ham United goalkeeper and his defence had suffered the frustration of failing to stop their opponents from scoring. Now, all of a sudden, the Hammers have found the knack of defying their opponents, ensuring Portsmouth, Sunderland and now Liverpool all drew a blank in their efforts to breach Green's rearguard.

On Monday evening, the goalkeeper was at his best yet again, pulling off fine saves from former team-mate Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt as Gianfranco Zola's side secured a hard-fought point in a 0-0 draw on Merseyside. 

The 28-year-old has revealed that neither he, nor one particular member of the club's backroom staff, had given up hope of shutting out the Reds. "Our kitman Pete [Williams] brought up London buses a few weeks ago and said 'Don't worry, they'll come all at once' and he was right," said the stopper. "To come to Anfield and do so well is obviously pleasing.

"The lads have put everything in and run themselves off the pitch at the end of the game. It was a tremendous effort. When a clean-sheet comes away from home in the Premier League you take it."

While Zola is keen to instil an attacking philosophy within his players, Green admits that both the Italian and his players are fully aware of the need to keep clean sheets if they are to maintain their recent upturn in form and results.

Having helped West Ham United avoid defeat at Anfield for the first time in eight visits, Green is keen to extend his record of 273 minutes without conceding when Tottenham Hotspur visit the Boleyn Ground next Monday evening. "I think we're learning as fast as he is that if you don't concede goals, you're not going to lose games," the goalkeeper added.

"Some people say it would be nice to come to Anfield and play wonderful attacking football and lose 4-3 but, as it is, we've come and dug in and put our bodies on the line.

"The lads have made blocks and headed out crosses and corners and you can't ask for any more."

Central to West Ham United's recent defensive improvements has been Zola's ability to name a settled back-four of captain Lucas Neill, Herita Ilunga, Matthew Upson and James Collins. Green confirmed that the consistent team selection had been an important ingredient in the Hammers' run of clean sheets.

"Last season if you look at it, there weren't many changes and our record spoke for itself," he said. "The season before that when we had the run towards the end the back-four didn't change and that's a recipe for success.

"You know what people can do and you know each others' qualities. It's the same with anything - partnerships up front work the same as partnerships at the back.

"Herita Ilunga has come in and done wonderfully well, Lucas Neill is as steady and as good as ever and the two centre-backs have done exceptionally well. There's four international footballers there, some real quality."