Captain's Blog - Up for the derby

This week has seen a real deliberate reaction from the whole of the squad to the disappointment of the result up at Hull.

Everyone is very conscious that the intensity of training which has been good, needed to be maintained and built on and as a result, there has been a real urgency and focus this week.

We all want to react positively to a game which for 90 per cent of the time, we dominated and were comfortable. It started much like the game up at Derby last season where we broke through and ended up winning convincingly. Had we done that last weekend, I believe we would have had a similar result. The result stands though, but there were plenty of positives to take from it. 

I would like to welcome Arsenal, their manager, players, staff and supporters for the game on Sunday. We go into a match, that I feel couldn't happen at a better time. The crowd will be up, everyone raises their game against one of the big four clubs and it is a game where we will look to set about Arsenal, upset them, play the ball and I am sure it is going to be a very exciting game.

At home, we are extremely confident that we will get a positive result and put the disappointment of the last two defeats behind us.

Fulham have already showed that Arsenal, away from home, can be vulnerable and I have no doubt that the way we are playing at home, added with a bit more aggression, we can get a similar result. This is a game that all this week in training, we firmly believe we can get a good result and upset the form guides and prove the so-called experts wrong.

A lot has happened since my last column - there was the international break for the World Cup qualifiers that brought a lot of positives for several of our players. For myself, with Australia we enjoyed a 4-0 win over Qatar. Matty Upson played in the two England games, which they won both and Matty by all accounts gave a good representation of himself, his club and country in those two matches.

Bellars and Ginge [Craig Bellamy and James Collins] had mixed fortunes in terms of results with Wales but can consider themselves unlucky not to have got something from the match against Germany. Valon [Behrami] won two difficult games with Switzerland, Herita [Ilunga] was with DR Congo and Nobes and Jack [Mark Noble and Jack Collison] were up against each other as England Under-21's met Wales Under-21's, with England enjoying the spoils there.

West Ham United as a club stepped up their work in the local community this week as part of the Premier League's Creating Chances initiative. Matty Upson paid a visit to the Braintree Rethink Carers Support group which helps and supports people who suffer or who have suffered with a mental illness. Our manager Gianfranco Zola went along to take part in a Community scheme that is run by our club, which helps to teach youngsters how to become sports coaches. These are just two visits among many in the community which as a club we will be involved in this season.

This week has seen the Kick It Out, One Game, One Community initiative launched for this season, Carlton Cole is our team's ambassador. The game against Arsenal is our day of action to put our weight behind erasing racism in all forms from our game.

Football is recognised as a universal game played by every colour, creed and race, therefore there is no room on the pitch or on the terraces for racism. I urge our fans to support this as much as they can and recognise that good work is being done off the field for this and it is up to us to put that right on the field.

The camp is very buoyant because we know if we continue to create the chances we have been creating and play the way we have been playing - cutting a few errors out here and there - the wins and the goals are going to come.

I am sure you will agree as fans, coming to watch our games at the moment has been quite pleasant on the eye and we can only get better with the way the manager wants us to play and the belief he has given us to pass the ball around. Don't lose faith because this is still a very exciting season for us.

This weekend against Arsenal, we will again need you, the fans, as the proverbial 12th man against a very good footballing team. You can be a driving force behind us as we look to put the frustration of not getting anything from the last two games into Sunday's match and rectify that by getting back on the winning road.

I would quickly like to mention that the Christmas parties for our younger fans, the Youth Academy members, is fast approaching. So, be sure to book your place and myself and the players will see you there. Enjoy the game.

Lucas Neill signature

Lucas Neill