'You could really feel it on the pitch'
- Sam Byram praises London Stadium atmosphere during Friday's 1-0 Premier League win over Tottenam
- Victory took West Ham United up to ninth in the table and made them mathematically safe
- Byram played his part in Manuel Lanzini's winner and put in a strong defensive performance
Sam Byram is always smiling.
Go on, take a look at every photograph of the West Ham United full-back. Whether he is playing, training, walking or having his lunch, he is ALWAYS smiling.
And Byram’s trademark grin was wider than ever after the Hammers’ 1-0 Premier League over Tottenham Hotspur on Friday evening.
“I think this game means the most to the team and the fans as a whole, and it was definitely the best atmosphere I’ve felt at the new ground,” he told whufc.com. “You could really feel it on the pitch, among the players and the fans, especially when the final whistle went!
“We’ve got a tight squad and a squad full of quality, so when people are injured there are others to step in. Everyone is working together – players, staff and fans – and you could feel that in the stands and in the dressing room after the game.
“We’ve got Liverpool next, another one of the big clubs, and we showed against Tottenham what we’re all about. We’ve got two games left, we’re in ninth, which shows how tight it is and how quickly it can change. We’re looking up now, rather than down.”
You could really feel it on the pitch, among the players and the fans, especially when the final whistle went!
Byram was recalled to the starting XI in place of Edimilson Fernandes and repaid Slaven Bilic’s faith with arguably his best performance in a Claret and Blue shirt.
Not only did the No22 keep Spurs winger Son Hueng-Min quiet, but he also supported the attack regularly and played his part in Manuel Lanzini’s unforgettable second-half winner.
“To be fair, the lads have done well to keep two clean sheets and look solid, so I was happy to come back in and I think I’ve shown I can play that position as well,” said Byram, who made two key passes and completed four clearances and 79.3% of his passes overall.
“We could have won by more. Jonny [Calleri] had a few chances and Ash [Fletcher] had a good chance at the end, and I think we limited them to very little, which showed how structured we were as a team. It wasn’t just the back five and the goalie, the whole team grafted and it was well-deserved.
“Against Everton and Stoke we created chances, maybe not as many as we did against Spurs, but we created chances and got our reward.”
One player who certainly grafted was lone striker Calleri, who gave Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen plenty to think about with his movement, strength and hold-up play.
On another night, the Argentinian would have capped an influential display with a goal, but Byram was not complaining.
“Jonny put a good shift in,” he confirmed. “He’s strong, he gives his all and I’m delighted he has done well.
“In training, he’s a very aggressive player and you need that in your team. I am sure the goals will come and hopefully he can get one next week.”