Curbs expecting a response

Alan Curbishley is looking to his squad to still "finish the season strongly" after coming up short for the second time in a week against Champions League-standard sides.

West Ham United were undone by a Fernando Torres hat-trick and a wonder strike from Steven Gerrard at Anfield on Wednesday but, for all the hosts' brilliance, Curbishley expected better having watched his side lose by the same margin at home to Chelsea on Saturday. "We made no impression on Liverpool at all in any area of the pitch," he said. "We were second best for the second time in four days. I knew they were going to be tough games but I didn't expect those performances.

"We have let ourselves down but we have got to move on to the next game [at Tottenham Hotspur] on Sunday and we have got to try and get ourselves back on track. We have played two top sides and they have demonstrated why they are top sides. Their finishing has been clinical and they have looked stronger all over the park. It is something we have got to think on."

Curbishley and his players held a post-match meeting in the Anfield dressing room and said there was a determination to put things right. "We did have a discussion about why we think it hasn't happened. I have got to see if I get a response on Sunday. I have got a good bunch of lads. We find ourselves in a situation where if we can finish the season strongly it bodes well for next year."

Reflecting on making "no impression at all" on "two Champions League sides" and the "disappointment" felt, he said: "It is very difficult when you play against the top sides because they have got players that can just change a game in an instant. It has also been the personnel that have been available ... I have had to do what I think is right. The club is sitting tenth, there are a few other clubs that would like to be sitting there."

Curbishley confirmed that Matthew Upson had picked up a calf strain - meaning his replacement Jonathan Spector may have to start there against Tottenham on Sunday should the ever-present miss out. With the chance to move eleven points clear of their north London rivals, the expectation is still for a positive end to a difficult week. "It makes it a big game for us on Sunday ... we shouldn't take [our position] for granted. There are ten other clubs that would like to be where we are at the moment.

"We don't want the season to drift. We are in a bit of no-man's land at the moment. If we get a result we don't seem to go anywhere and if we don't get a result we don't seem to go anywhere. But we have got the run-in. In the last six games we have played Liverpool twice and Chelsea. That has been tough but we have now got to attack the opposition we have left and pick some points up."

Match report I League table