Nobes lauds perfect February

After a tough start to 2013/14 that saw West Ham United begin the New Year in the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, the Hammers roared back to form in February.

Sam Allardyce's side won four league games out of four in the month, scoring nine goals and conceding just one. Over the same period, West Ham climbed from 18th and two points from safety to tenth, seven points clear of the bottom three.

While the improvement has been a real team effort, the form of midfielder Mark Noble has been a recognisable highlight in recent weeks. The No16 played every minute in February, chalking up an assist for Mohamed Diame in the 2-0 win over Norwich City and making a team-high 154 passes and 16 tackles over the four matches.

Unsurprisingly, Noble is enjoying the Club's first four-match winning league run since May 2007, when he was part of the team which miraculously avoided relegation by winning their final four league fixtures.

"I was in that run as well, wasn't I?" he smiled "That's nice. I can't remember it, if I am honest, but obviously I remember that season. I didn't know that is when we last won four in a row.

"It's a similar situation, really. We were obviously low in the league, so a draw and four wins in a row is superb. Up until a month ago I don't even think we had achieved back-to-back wins for two years, and then we win four in a row. That is just what you get for working hard and taking your chances."

Many commentators have suggested  it was a goalless draw at Chelsea on 29 January - where West Ham repelled 39 shots on their goal - that proved to be the catalyst for the Hammers' winning run.

However, Noble believes the confidence drawn from the 2-0 win at Cardiff City on 11 January was the real start of the resurgence. There, West Ham overcame the loss of James Tomkins to a red card at 1-0, with the midfielder himself scoring a last-gasp clincher.

"To be honest it has been an accumulation of things. We went away to Cardiff and that was a massive game. We went down to ten men on 70 minutes and we won it 2-0, then we played at home to Newcastle [and llost 3-1]. Then, we went away to Chelsea and defended well and then obviously we have now won four games in a row. Three of those teams are among the ones around us and they are the teams you have to beat.

"I think the top six or seven are out of sight and the rest are fighting for places. It has been enjoyable in the last month. We have come back from Dubai, where we had a good team-bonding thing out there. We trained and had some free time which we enjoyed and we have come back and put another win on the board."

Saturday saw Noble at his best yet again, making a team-high 33 passes and four tackles as West Ham upset a Southampton side which had not lost in the league since New Year's Day.

"Everyone said how good Southampton are," Noble added. "I think they had taken 19 points away from home already this season. They came here and we ended up winning 3-1. The confidence is high, it is five games unbeaten now and we are looking forward to whatever comes our way."

That 'whatever' is a trip to Everton on Saturday.

West Ham's five-match unbeaten run will no doubt come under threat at Goodison Park, where Everton have lost just once in 12 home league matches this season.

The Toffees also won 3-2 in the reverse fixture at the Boleyn Ground in September - a game that saw Noble score before being sent-off for two bookable offences. After his dismissal, Leighton Baines and Romelu Lukaku netted late goals to send West Ham spiralling to a disappointing home defeat.

However, with confidence high and striker Andy Carroll available again after a three-match suspension, Noble says the Hammers have nothing to fear from their trip to Merseyside.

"Yeah. I remember we were 2-1 up and I scored a penalty and I think there were only ten minutes to go," he recalled. "We always look back and see that game as what was going wrong with our season in the first half of it.

"Has Baines scored another free kick this season? I don't think he has. It just seemed like it was all happening to us and we didn't deserve it. We were getting punished and that is what happens in this league. Now we are solid and scoring goals it shows what a team we are."

*A limited number of tickets remain available for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Everton. To secure your seat at Goodison Park, click here.