Stalemate leaves Clarke content

Steve Clarke admitted it was a measure of West Ham United's side progress that the management team were "a little bit disappointed" with a goalless draw at Arsenal.

Although the point preserved the hold on eighth spot and moved the Hammers to within four points of sixth place, the first team coach revealed he had expected a little bit more going forward after the midweek masterclass against Hull City. That said, he could not fault the rearguard resilience in front of Robert Green - who made it three clean sheets in a week after the 2-0 wins against Hartlepool United and Hull City.


"It was good," said Clarke. "[The Emirates] is always a difficult place to come. We expected a hard game. We did very well. We kept our shape. I am a little bit disappointed if I can be honest, that we didn't create enough going forward. We didn't keep the ball well enough at times but I think when you look overall it is a good point.

"Defensively the team played well, everybody did what they should do. The shape of the team was good. Our work ethic was fantastic. Sometimes James [Collins] stands out a little bit more because he throws himself around and gets a few blocks in but I thought all the defenders were top class."

Clarke, who spoke to the press with the manager heading abroad straight after the final whistle made it eight games unbeaten away from home and no defeats on the road since 29 October, rejected claims the side had set out to stifle. "We didn't send the side out any differently to what it has been the last few weeks. We didn't come here to defend. Sometimes when you play against a good team you have to defend.

"Arsenal moved the ball around, they caused us one or two problems. Not too many because they didn't have too many clear-cut chances but we certainly didn't come here with the intention of defending.

"We are a bit disappointed that we couldn't pass the ball and create many changes. I think if you look at the changes we made late in the game, we brought on another striker [Savio] to try and force things going forward. It is a little bit harsh to say we just set up the team to defend.

"I think it is very important in the confidence and belief of the players that they can come to these places and get positive results. Obviously the next stage would be to come to these places and win the match.

"That would be a progression but, for the moment, from where we were in October to where we are now, there has been a significant progress at the club. [It is down to] hard work on the training pitch and hard work out there in the matches.

"The attitude of the players is fantastic. They want to learn, they want to get better. You can see now that we are a team that knows what they are doing and are working hard for each other. You get the rewards now."

Clarke, who revealed efforts were being made to add depth to the squad, possibly in midfield to complement recent recruits Savio and Radoslav Kovac, reaffirmed that he expected none of the key squad members to leave before Monday evening's transfer deadline. It is the midfield diamond that has done much for the team's fortune of late and Clarke explained how the coaching staff had come to settle on that system.

"[After arriving] we had to feel out the players a little bit. We tried to play [4-3-3]. We would have liked to have continue playing that way but we just weren't getting the results. Some of the performances were good but we couldn't see the matches out and we lost a lot of away goals so we decided to change it.

"We went to a flat 4-4-2 for a couple of games and that helped us to turn the corner. We got a good result at Anfield, got a victory at Sunderland and slowly with the strength of the players we have got we decided on a midfield in a diamond shape and it has worked very well for us."