- Darren Randolph is set to start his third straight Premier League against Arsenal on Saturday
- Irishman has been preferred to Adrian in recent weeks
- No1 is determined to build on last weekend's 1-1 draw at Manchester United
Darren Randolph has won his waiting game and is desperate not to lose his hard-earned place in the West Ham United team.
The Irishman’s consistent performances in training and cup matches saw him called into Slaven Bilic’s Premier League starting XI for the recent trip to Tottenham Hotspur. Randolph impressed at White Hart Lane before winning Man of the Match honours in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United, where his heroics helped earn a hard-fought point.
The No1 is set to keep his place for Saturday’s derby with Arsenal, with Adrian again on the substitutes’ bench, but Randolph knows the Spaniard has the ability and attitude to win a recall should his own standards slip.
“I knew coming in last year that I was coming in to fight for the place, but Adrian had been here for three seasons and had been very good, so I knew it would be a waiting game,” he revealed. “If I got chances in the cup games, I knew I had to perform and that’s all I could have done.
“I was quite lucky last year with the FA Cup run we had and getting the last few Premier League games of the season and a few at the start of this season in Europe. I got quite a few games, a lot more than I thought I would play last year. I’ve got my chance and I’m just enjoying it, because it’s been a long wait.
“I don’t know if I’m in the form of my life, but it’s definitely become a reality now, when before I thought ‘It would be nice to get there’.
“At the minute, I’ve achieved the goals I set out to achieve, but while it’s hard to get where you want to be, it’s even harder to stay there. Hopefully there is more to come.”
Saturday marks the third of four straight fixtures against Premier League’s title-chasers, with the visit of Arsenal following a heart-breaking 3-2 defeat at Tottenham and resilient 1-1 draw at Manchester United, and ahead of a trip to Liverpool on Sunday 11 December.
The Gunners have lost just once in the Premier League – to Liverpool on the opening weekend – and their midweek EFL Cup defeat by Southampton was a first in 20 matches in all competitions.
We’ll be looking at Arsenal on video and trying to impose our game plan
On paper, Arsenal are daunting opponents for the 16th-placed Hammers, but Randolph says Bilic’s team can take heart from the result they achieved at Old Trafford.
“With how tight things are in the Premier League and how we’ve been going of late, picking up a point at Old Trafford helped us out massively and it will be the same against Arsenal – try to frustrate them and take as many points out of the game as we can,” he observed.
“There are weaknesses in every team, but you just need to create the chances to exploit those weaknesses, while keeping everything solid yourselves. We’ll be looking at them on video and trying to impose our game plan.”
One man who will help West Ham to impose themselves on Arsene Wenger’s team is the returning Andy Carroll, who smashed in a hat-trick in Arsenal’s last visit to east London – a 3-3 draw at the Boleyn Ground in April.
Randolph, for one, is excited about the No9’s imminent comeback.
“Andy brings an all-around threat,” he confirmed. “He obviously takes a lot of people’s attention when he’s on the pitch and is a different kind of tactic for us as well.
“He definitely gives the whole team a boost. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him, so to have him back is big for us.”