Big Sam lauds defensive 'brilliance'

Sam Allardyce took great pride and pleasure from West Ham United's hard-fought goalless Barclays Premier League draw at Chelsea.

The Hammers boss told West Ham TV that his players deserved a clean sheet and a vital point from their resilient performance at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea unleashed 38 shots, nine of which were on target, only for West Ham's players to throw themselves in the way of everything. When the ball did sneak past the outfield players, goalkeeper Adrian was there to make a number of important saves.

At the other end, while West Ham mustered just one effort on target, James Tomkins forced a flying save from Petr Cech in the first half, while Andy Carroll mis-kicked when well-placed after the interval.

All in all, though, the manager was more than content with a point that clearly frustrated Jose Mourinho and his players.

Read our Match Report from the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge

"I think that our solidarity and our defensive resilience meant that it wasn't luck, it was sheer brilliance why we got a point," said the manager. "Our last-ditch defending was brilliant and you can't tell me Adrian has had to make too many saves apart from that one he made at the end from Frank Lampard.

"Thank goodness Frank didn't score against us again, and it was a brilliant performance overall when you consider we had to play the last ten minutes with ten men after losing Joey O'Brien to a dislocated shoulder.

"That's three dislocated shoulders we've had this season and is an illustration of how injury-prone we've become as a squad this year and it's cost us. We'd only just got Joey back and he's injured again, while Mo Diame got injured falling over the advertising board.

"It never rains but it pours from that point of view and, just as I am getting everybody back and fit and am leaving players out of the squad and off the bench - which is a nice thing to be able to do - two players are injured again.

"But, that said, what a great performance, defensively and tactically, but the players in nullifying the world-class players that Chelsea have. They made sure Chelsea resorted to moaning and groaning and waving their arms about, trying to intimidate the referee to get something out of the game that they couldn't get in general play."

Despite ceding possession and territory to their hosts for long periods, the Hammers retained a defensive shape until the very last of the 97 minutes played.

A match played in steady rain on a sodden pitch would have seen lesser teams wilt, but West Ham remained organised to a man for the entirety of a physically and mentally draining match.

"When they threw Demba Ba on, we went five at the back and made sure we stayed resilient with the four midfielders in front of them.

"After Joey went off, we had three in front of them and Carlton Cole up front trying to hold the ball up when he could for us. It ended up with about seven or eight minutes injury time after the delays!

"From our point of view, it was a great performance. From the referee's point of view, standing up to the intimidation he received and being strong and not wilting under the pressure he was put under [was also great]."

When West Ham's massed ranks were breached on a few occasions, Chelsea found Adrian in unbeatable form.

The Spaniard made saves in either half, denying Oscar, John Terry and Samuel Eto'o before the break and Frank Lampard with a dramatic last-gasp stop.

Big Sam was also pleased to introduce Italy international midfielder Antonio Nocerino as a late substitute, giving him a first taste of English football.

"He has grown as a goalkeeper as he has felt his way into the team, has Adrian.

"We got Antonio on for a little bit, just to show him what it's like. He came on at the end, so he can imagine what it's like at the beginning now!

"The only disappointment for me was the two injuries and the fact Andy Carroll didn't score when he had the chance."

Now, Big Sam wants to see his team build on their hard-earned point when they host Swansea City at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday lunchtime.

"We've already got a better away record this year than last, so it's at home where we've let ourselves down. I think we've got to improve the home results, starting with Swansea on Saturday.

"We wasted the chance at home to build on our win at Cardiff against Newcastle, due in part due to the injury circumstances that we had. Hopefully, those injuries won't affect the back four going out there on Saturday.

"Winston Reid is nearly back now and we won't slip up like we did against Newcastle. After a hard-earned point at Chelsea, it's got to be followed up with a result against Swansea."

Finally, the manager revealed that West Ham will have to sell before they can add to the squad in the final days of the transfer window. The Hammers are currently at capacity in their 25-man senior squad and will have to make space if the manager and Board want to bring in new faces.

"We can only name 25, so we're already looking at the fact that we might have to leave one or two of those out [of the matchday squad] with the players we have available at the moment.

"We'll have to look at it in the case of a top player becoming available who the Chairmen and myself want to go for. At the moment, it's about getting the players in this frame of mind for the rest of the season and keeping them fit."