Pablo Fornals: Defensive solidity gave us platform to win
A goal and an assist for Pablo Fornals capped a performance to celebrate on Sunday as West Ham United saw off Leicester City 3-0.
Typically selfless, however, the Spaniard opted to give much of the credit for the victory – the Irons created 14 shooting opportunities to the hosts’ four, and conceded no shots on target throughout the match – to the steely defence behind him.
Following the win at the King Power Stadium and Sunday’s other results, West Ham now possess the second-best defensive record in the Premier League after four games played.
They travelled to Leicester aware they were facing a team who could have returned to the top of the table with victory – but dominated to the extent that only one team ever looked likely to come away with the three points.
“We are playing good football and having a lot of chances to score,” Fornals told West Ham TV. “When we defend well, we are also a great team on the attack – that’s why we won today.
“We knew before that they are an unbelievable team because they were near the top of the table, so we needed to score and be compact and try not to concede any goals. I’m very happy for our defence as well.
“I think when all of us have the desire to run, to be compact, to keep in shape, we are a great team. We have players who are good on and off the pitch, and good players outside of the squad.
“When we’re all playing well, it’s difficult to be in the starting eleven. It’s a good way to improve all of us.”
One of countless impressive performers on Sunday was Aaron Cresswell, whose licence to roam forwards from the left side of a back three caused havoc in the Leicester defence in the first half.
Having set up Michail Antonio’s early opener with a pinpoint delivery, Cresswell’s long ball from deep inside his own half set Fornals away for the Hammers' second goal on 34 minutes.
While Fornals had made an incisive run in behind Leicester’s defence, the high pass still required sublime control to bring it into his path – a feat which the technically proficient Spaniard pulled off seemingly with ease, before slotting past Kasper Schmeichel.
Fornals’ goal was the No18’s second in two starts against Leicester City in the Premier League, and he could not hide his delight at having netted against the Foxes once more.
“It was a great assist from Cressy,” he recalled. “He tried to get rid of the ball in a difficult zone, and I saw what he was going to do.
“I just tried to run, tried to control the ball. I’m happy because the control was very good and, after it, I tried to get a shot on target.
“It’s what I’m training every day, trying to shoot on target every time. I’m very happy that, this time, it didn’t touch the post – it went just inside!
“That’s why I work every day – not just me, all the team, and I’m very happy to have some good games on the road.”
The Irons have enjoyed two standout results – 4-0 and 3-0 wins over Wolves and Leicester respectively – in the last week, but now face a fortnight’s gap until their next fixture.
When they do return from the international break to take on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 18 October, Fornals is hoping West Ham can pick up where they left off.
“If I could choose, I would say there would be no international break!” he laughed.
“I think every Hammer would want to play again in three days’ time, because we are playing unbelievably and we want to keep the good vibes up.”