Big Sam concerned by mistakes

Sam Allardyce pulled no punches in his assessment of West Ham United's 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by Chelsea.

The Hammers manager admitted individual mistakes had cost his team dear for the second game in succession, leading to costly defeats at Norwich City and at home to the Blues.

On Saturday, Guy Demel's poor backpass led to Jussi Jaaskelainen fouling Oscar and Frank Lampard firing the visitors ahead from the penalty spot. Oscar himself added a second before half-time before Lampard completed a miserable afternoon with a late third.

"I am disappointed and the fact of the matter is that, because we didn't win the games we should have done at the start of the season, we not only had to play against a big team like Chelsea but we also had to fight the demons that our in our minds at the moment," admitted Big Sam.

"The difference between what we were doing prior to Norwich and what we're doing now is that individual errors are making so much of a difference to us. We hadn't seen that before, but it happened in the second half at Norwich and it happened again on Saturday.

"In the 17 or so minutes before they got the penalty, there was little between the two sides and I think we then had a few moments, but none better than the one that fell to Joe Cole that was blocked by Petr Cech. Then, within the space of a few minutes, we made a big error and it cost us a penalty.

"We had to come back from that. While we were trying to change it and get a couple of subs because I didn't think we had overcome the manner of conceding the first goal, Oscar scored the second.

"After half-time we got a little better and were more resilient and had to be patient to create a chance. The big chance fell to Modibo Maiga, and if he had scored it would have rallied the crowd and given them something to get on the edge of their seats about. It might have helped us go on to get a draw, who knows?

"That didn't happen and we had to take more and more chances and risks and it left us open. It generally happens that, if you don't get your goal, the opposition get one and that's what they did."

The manager pointed to the mistakes made in the last two fixtures as something his players simply have to cut out if they are to arrest their recent slide.

"That's what has disappointed me against Norwich and again on Saturday because they haven't really earned the right to beat us. We've beaten ourselves. That is what is worrying me at the moment, because we hadn't seen that up to then.

"We had six clean sheets in ten matches going into the last two games, which is a resilient football team which gives you the chance to win matches. We can't lose that. We know we're struggling to score goals, but in most of the games we're creating 15 or more chances at goal, even if we didn't do that against Chelsea.

"We can't lose that resilience or else life will become very difficult indeed. We know, as a team, at the moment we are a 1-0 team if we are going to win because we're not scoring more than one very often. Too many times, we're not scoring at all, so we've got to make sure we know what we are until we score more goals."

Big Sam did take some encouragement from the Hammers' second-half display, which included an improved performance from central striker Maiga on his return to first-team duty. While Maiga did miss his one clear chance, the Mali forward led the line well and won a succession of aerial battles with John Terry and Gary Cahill.

However, the manager refused to blame the forward-less 4-6-0 formation that has been employed in recent weeks for the downturn in results.

"It did give me a bit of heart, yes," he said. "That said, we have had games where we've had more attempts at goal when we didn't play with a front man. If you don't play with anyone up front and you win, it's brilliant. If you lose, it's because you haven't got anyone up front, but that's not true.

"If the system is played right and the players play to their strengths, you can win football matches, as we proved at Tottenham. At the moment, it's not so much about the system but about us being resilient and creating chances and most importantly, taking them.

"It's now a big concern to me, because these players proved they can score goals in the Premier League last season, but they are not doing it this season."

Looking forward at the fixture list, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland are all on the agenda within the next four matches. Big Sam did not need to be told of the importance of those games.

"Fulham, Crystal Palace and then Sunderland are going to determine our season now. The pressure is on the players, myself and the staff to make sure we prepare to go into those three games and come out with a minimum of six points. That's got to be our minimum target now or else we're going to be battling in the bottom three or four beyond Christmas.

"We've got to try to avert that in the next two games, which are local derbies. Fulham can kick-start us into a good run of results by beating them and then we'll take the confidence on to face Fulham and then Sunderland."