Manager on Monday

Sam Allardyce will be hoping West Ham United can replicate their dominant display from the Swansea City match when they visit Aston Villa on Sunday.

Big Sam's side were thoroughly good value for their 1-0 win against The Swans on Saturday, with a relentlessly offensive display matched only by a defensive team effort that was far more reminiscent of the side that had looked so hard to score against earlier this season. The West Ham United manager clearly felt that goals had been offered up too cheaply in the recent away games at Arsenal and Fulham, so after some detailed analysis and hard work on the Chadwell Heath training pitches, he was delighted to see his team stand tall to thwart the usually potent Swansea attack.

"We were compact as a unit, getting back to how we know we can defend together," Allardyce said. "When you see that Swansea had not lost for seven games and one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League in Michu has been limited to little or no chances, it tells you that it must be the basis of any team being successful.

"Clean sheets are hugely important and of course if you keep one and score a goal it means you win the game. Nothing you can do can be better than that other than when you look at a game like Saturday's and think it should have been two or three goals to the good rather than one."

Andy Carroll scored the only goal of the game to cap an energetic display, but his performance was not just about goalscoring as he set up a series of chances for his team-mates and in particular Kevin Nolan, who was unlucky not to register with two fine efforts that were saved by Gerhard Tremmel in the Swansea goal. The Hammers captain and the on-loan Liverpool striker were up to their old tricks again straight from kick-off and combined to cause Michael Laudrup's side no end of problems.

"Kevin is ultimately disappointed that he hasn't put either of his two chances in the back of the net," Big Sam explained, "you've got to give the goalkeeper a lot of credit for the saves he made but Kevin will always be disappointed when he's in that position that he didn't score.

"Andy and Kevin seem to have this natural instinct when they play together. They didn't play for too long together at Newcastle but since he has been here, Kevin has got quite a few goals off Andy's play.

"It wasn't just Andy's contribution to the game with the goal he scored but also the contribution in how well he helped the other lads create chances to score as well."

The West Ham No8 was making his first start since picking up a knee injury against Manchester United on 28 November and his return seemed to add an extra zest to the hosts' attacking play. With Carlton Cole, Modibo Maiga and Marouane Chamakh all an option to provide competition to Carroll, Big Sam is delighted with his bolstered striking options.

"If your front man plays well then the team plays well. If the ball is held up well then the whole team can break well. The likes of Mo Diame, Matt Jarvis, Ricardo Vaz Te, Kevin Nolan and Joe Cole can all go on from there and get in the opposition's box, take the full-backs on and sustain a bit of pressure on the opposition's back four.

"What happens is if the ball is played up there and it doesn't stick then the lads stop making the runs, they start sitting back and waiting and then you don't get the forward movement that you'd like.

"When you consider Andy has come back from nine weeks out, I'm impressed that he could last for the full 90 minutes. He played about 15 minutes at Fulham on Wednesday and we thought we'd get the first hour out of him and see how he was. We thought he might be walking around puffing and blowing but that wasn't the case.

"If he can produce that when he hasn't played for nine weeks, when he gets on top of his match fitness, I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can produce."

Momo Diame also demonstrated that the media scrutiny he was subjected to during the January transfer window has not affected him with another blockbuster display in the heart of the Hammers' midfield. Big Sam reiterated how happy he is to have kept the Senegal international and is looking forward to helping him continue the improvement he has shown since he oined from Wigan in the summer.

"You see a lot of ability in the way that he keeps the ball and wriggles his way past the opposition midfield, although sometimes he gets a little frustrated with his final shot or his pass. He's settled now the window is shut and he knows he's got to produce his best performances this season and to just keep enjoying his football."

Looking back at the window as a whole, Big Sam is happy with the work West Ham did and is looking forward to seeing what his improved squad can achieve in the remaining 13 Barclays Premier League games.

"We got Wellington from Brazil and he may be the goalscorer we're looking for. We also got some cover from the back - Emanuel Pogatetz experienced Premier League football before playing in the German league for four or five years.

"We all know what Joe Cole can do if we can keep him fit, Vaz Te's back from three months out and Matt Jarvis is starting to show the kind of form that he did at Wolves. Kevin Nolan is our leading goalscorer and could have scored a couple more on Saturday so if he keeps that up he'll get into double figures and if someone can get up and near him we'll be OK."

Tottenham Hotspur tickets