Potts ready for rival clash

Steve Potts is looking forward to seeing a healthy rivalry when he takes his Academy side to play Arsenal in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League on Saturday.

The Hammers are targeting a sixth consecutive win against the Gunners, following a five match winning streak which has seen them score eleven times and concede just once.

Potts' team are currently the occupants of second place in the division, level on points with leaders Fulham, and the 46-year-old is hoping for three more points against their north London rivals.

He told West Ham TV: "It's a very good challenge for us. You know how a game against Arsenal's going to go. They try and play their football and they'll be looking to beat us.

"There's a bit of rivalry between the two groups I would say, and at Youth Team level and below, I think the two teams are always looking to outdo each other.

"Hopefully we can get on with our game and play how we have been doing."

The U18s' excellent form has not only been restricted to their last five games, with the team having tasted defeat only once in ten league matches, with an incredible nine wins in that sequence.

Defeat to Southampton, a narrow 2-1 loss, is the only blip since going down to Sunderland way back in September 2013 and Potts admits to being delighted with the consistent level of performance shown by his players.

"The boys have done well lately and put in some good performances. They came back after Christmas, went down to Southampton and I thought we were a bit unfortunate down there and the result went the wrong way for us. Since then, we've done ok.

"I think it's key. There are some talented boys in the group but I think consistency is the one thing you're looking for, without that it's going to be a struggle.

"At this age and especially at a senior level, everyone's looking to know what they're going to get out of each player each week. I think the boys have done that well so far and I hope that carries on."

Last time out goals from striker Jordan Brown and winger Djair Parfitt-Williams inspired the young Hammers to a 2-0 victory against their nearest competitors Fulham.

Potts felt his side deserved the three points against the Cottagers and has now set his sights firmly on taking the same return from Saturday's clash.

"It's been a good test for us this year. I said to the boys at the start of the year it will be a tough test all round.

"You're going to get a mixture of games and you're going to have to play quite a few northern teams as well, which mixes it up quite well. We went to Fulham and gave a good account of ourselves and came out with a good result.

"I think it's going to be a tough game (Arsenal), whatever team they put out. That's the thing with this division, you never quite know what team they're going to put out. They're doing well in the FA Youth Cup, so they can be strong and I'm sure we'll see that on Saturday."