Green grateful for defence

They say nobody appreciates the art of defending as much as a goalkeeper and that certainly seems to be the case with West Ham United's No1 Robert Green.

England international Green has been beaten just three times in the last seven games and he puts the success firmly on the shoulders of those playing directly in front of him.

"It speaks volumes for the lads that there have not been too many games where I have been overly stretched," Green said. "Out of those seven, it's been a fairly quiet ride for me. It's been a tremendous effort by the guys and everyone involved.

"Organisation is the key and that comes down from the manager all the way down to the players, with concentration and things like that along with hard work and being tough to beat, which when we've got so many attack-minded players out through injury or suspension it's paramount that we do something at the back."

The strong rearguard showing is all the more impressive considering the changes enforced on manager Gianfranco Zola through injuries and suspension. Green explains that having such tight-knit group with good understanding has been the key to not letting the difference in personnel affect performances.

"We've now got five or six players in the back four that can slip in and we've been playing together for a quite a while now. Herita [Ilunga] has come in and this season and has played virtually every game since he arrived and has been tremendous.

"Everyone knows each others games and everyone is going into the games fairly sure of their roles."

Two of those players who have put the team's cause before their own in recent weeks have been James Tomkins and Lucas Neill. Tomkins has filled in at right-back to cover for captain Neill's switch into a central midfield. Their professionalism and enthusiasm to help the team out have impressed Green.

"Tomka has been fantastic since coming back from being on loan. He is learning all the time the difficulties and demands of the Premier League and he is equipping himself tremendously well and it is credit to him that he is part of such a solid defence.

"Lucas is playing every position under the sun and he is doing a tremendous job and doing it for the team and underlines his importance to this club and the team as well."


The Hammers' defence will no doubt face another stern examination on Saturday when the multi-million pound attack of Chelsea visits the Boleyn Ground. Green is hoping for better fortune than in previous years, spurred on by the resilient showing in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. He said: "It will be a tough game. They'll be buoyant after their result last weekend and they'll fancy their chances of going on to win the FA Cup.

"It will be interesting to see the importance of where they see themselves in the race for the title and whether they figure themselves in the race for that and whether they see it as a priority for their top side. But they've always got a nucleus of 18 top players and it's always so tough.

"I've been here a few years now and this is my third time playing against Chelsea and we've not done ourselves justice against them at home. We did get a good result against them at Stamford Bridge earlier this season and we'll be looking for another performance of similar solidity at the back and hopefully take a couple of chances at the other end."