'We need to improve'

Playing three league matches in the space of seven days is an experience alien to West Ham United left-back Razvan Rat.

During a ten-year career with Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, Rat was used to playing just 30 league matches over an eleven-month period, complete with a three-month winter break.

Here in England, the Barclays Premier League allows for no such respite, with 38 matches to be played between mid-August and mid-May, including three between Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

The No8 featured in the 3-1 home defeat by Arsenal and thrilling 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion and is now preparing physically and mentally for Wednesday's vital trip to Fulham.

Rat is relishing his first experience of festive football, despite the fact West Ham will likely travel to Craven Cottage without injured centre-backs Winston Reid, James Collins and James Tomkins. With the trio side-lined, full-backs Joey O'Brien and George McCartney could form the same makeshift partnership that came together against the Baggies on Saturday.

"We showed against West Brom that West Ham can play good football and have a good performance, but we need to improve every game to have better results," said the Romanian.

"Now it is not easy for us because we don't have the centre-backs, so we played Joey and George there. They are not really centre-backs but they must adapt because we don't have anyone else. We need to think how to play together and to put good performances in.

"It's unlucky to have all the injuries in the same position, so we need them back. Still then, we need to play with the players we have available so that's life.

"We need a good result against Fulham because we really need points. It's true that it's very close and we've had three games in a week, but I'm trying to adapt and I will do my best."

Reflecting on Saturday's rollercoaster draw with West Brom, Rat admitted to enjoying the experience of the English top-flight at its exhilarating best, with goals, incidents and talking points galore at the Boleyn Ground.

The Hammers went ahead on three minutes through Joe Cole, only for Nicolas Anelka to strike twice in six minutes to send the Baggies in ahead at the break.

Modibo Maiga and Kevin Nolan netted within three minutes midway through the second half to put West Ham back in front, only for Saido Berahino to silence the Boleyn Ground crowd moments later with a pinpoint strike into the bottom corner.

"I enjoyed the game," said Rat. "It was the first time in my career that I have played two times in three days, so for me it was not easy and also unusual.

"I hope that the fans liked the game. It's true that we don't like the result, but we did try our best and were a bit unlucky.

"We had the lead 1-0 and then dropped to 2-1. After that, it was amazing that we came back to go 3-2 up and were unlucky to draw. It's true that the West Brom player made a great finish for 3-3 but we could have won this game and for me, it was really unlucky.

"I felt when we scored our third goal that everything was there, we were doing everything right and everything was going right and we would have a victory, but unfortunately it just didn't happen."

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