Collins committed to defensive cause

James Collins believes West Ham United are beginning to state their intentions for this season after a solid point away from home at Norwich City on Saturday.

Another strong defensive display resulted in Collins and his team-mates picking up their third clean sheet in four Barclays Premier League games. The No19 put in his usual all-action display and was understandably pleased to notch up another clean sheet, both for his fellow defenders and the rest of the team.

"The manager has said to us about the importance of keeping clean sheets, because it always gives you a chance of winning any game," Collins said. "We have been working on that and apart from the match at Swansea, we have been on target.

"Against Norwich we had chances, so did they and people watching will probably wonder how it stayed 0-0. There were lots of opportunities for us both, but no one could stick the ball in the back of the net, so I suppose you could say a draw was a fair result. For us it was another clean sheet and a point to take home."

Collins and central defensive partner Winston Reid were impressive once again, with the latter named Man of the Match for his efforts. For Collins, though, the point was a chance to bounce back from the difficult afternoon at Swansea City three weeks earlier. 

"We were bitterly disappointed that day in Swansea, me personally as well. Individual mistakes cost us but since then we have been spot on and long may it continue.

"It was a hard match against Norwich as there was a quick tempo throughout the game, but that is part of our plan - to put teams on the back foot as soon as we can and we did that again. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the goal we wanted but on another day we will."

Collins had words of praise for all of his team-mates but especially goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who played his part in making sure a point at least was going back to east London.

"I felt as a team we gave a strong performance - we stood firm to them and the basis of our performances has been in trying to keep clean sheets.

"Jussi made some great saves. He is right up there with the best keepers I have played with, he talks well on the pitch and in the dressing room. He has played in the Premier League for longer than I can remember now.

"His experience meant that for some of the shots, he already knew which way they were going to go and that is great for helping us boys in front of him."

The Wales international, who returned to West Ham from Aston Villa in the summer, was also confident that a decision to award Norwich a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area - instead of a spot kick - was correct, with his tackle on Andrew Surman falling just outside the box.

"I was pretty confident it was outside the area but fair play to the referee, he made a great decision. We saw it again and the ref said before making a decision he looked at where the marks were on the pitch, from me sliding in to making the tackle. They were outside the box, so he made the right decision."

As a team that has just been promoted, Collins knows that it is important to get as many points as possible early on. It is an ambition that manager Sam Allardyce and his coaching staff have drilled into the players since the first day of pre-season.

"During pre-season, we were talking about getting off to a good start, taking it on from last season when the boys got promoted at Wembley and finishing the season well.

"We haven't come back up to this league just to stay up. If we can, we want to do more. I think we have shown that in our performances already that we have it in us to finish as high as we can."

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