Grant acknowledges Arsenal strength

Avram Grant reflected on a difficult derby day that saw his team's fine sequence of three straight home wins halted by an imperious title-chasing Arsenal side.

Just as Arsene Wenger's side had done in their previous Barclays Premier League awayday against Birmingham City on New Year's Day, they scored three unanswered goals and thoroughly deserved the victory. Grant was without midfielder Scott Parker to an ankle injury and also forwards Victor Obinna (suspension) and Frederic Piquionne (dental surgery) but did not dwell on such complications.

"Arsenal are a good team, they played well," he said, after Robin van Persie's double either side of Theo Walcott's strike settled the Saturday evening contest. "It is not a secret. But I am delighted with the effort of my players. We were without five first-choice midfielders and then Mark Noble [calf] was injured during the game.

"The effort was good and we also had a few chances to score in the first half. People were out of position and we had two or three young players. Even though we lost we can say some positive things. It was very difficult to play against Arsenal, they have won games by big margins including against Chelsea. "

Grant, who fielded eight Englishman in his starting eleven including debutant Wayne Bridge - his sixth different left-back of the season - felt his team could have made it a different story if they were at full strength and not up against an Arsenal side boasting all of their main front five.

"Today, if we had all our team it could have been different. It was difficult, especially against Arsenal. We did well against other teams around us in these circumstances but when you play the top teams you need your top players."

The manager brushed aside questions about his future with the team still in last place and instead wanted to focus the attention where he felt it was most deserved. "The first commitment needs to be the supporters," he said. "They were great for us. When I see the crowd and how they behave, I have to give my thanks back. They are always behind the team and I give them my respect."

The Hammers head to Everton next Saturday still only a win away from moving level on points with the team in 15th looking to get back to the form that had garnered four wins and two draws from the previous seven matches. Indeed, depending on the Merseyside derby on Sunday, a win at Goodison Park could leave them just two points behind their hosts, who currently sit in 12th spot.