Alfie Lewis: Under-23s will mount a response against Tottenham Hotspur
As a key member of a group of players unaccustomed to defeat in recent times, West Ham United Under-23s midfielder Alfie Lewis is backing his teammates to rally themselves with a positive display at Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.
The U23s kicked off their first season back in Premier League 2 Division 1 with an impressive performance at last year’s unbeaten champions Chelsea, only to struggle to apply the killer touch in front of goal.
Lewis and his teammates were industrious in the centre of the pitch against much-fancied opposition, hounding and harrying Blue shirts at every turn and helping the Hammers control the game for large periods.
The 20-year-old was therefore as frustrated as anybody to see West Ham fall to a late Chelsea winner, but after seeing many of the opposition players run off their feet at the final whistle, he believes the Irons can take great encouragement from their display.
The U23s will have the immediate opportunity to put things right when they visit Tottenham Hotspur in their second game of the league season on Friday afternoon.
Lewis told whufc.com: “The boys were disappointed on Monday because it was a team effort and we thought we did enough to win the game.
“We were all disappointed because they didn’t really get through us, and we had our chances and we didn’t take them, so that’s something for us to improve on. It was a good game and one we know we could’ve got more out of – we were just unlucky not to score.
“Even Chelsea, last year’s champions, were knackered from the way we pressed them and kept running. We tried to outrun them, press them and win the ball back early, and we did that and know we have to keep doing it.”
A second London derby in the space of five days is yet another occasion for Dmitri Halajko’s U23s to relish, with Tottenham finishing last season in tenth position.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Chelsea on Monday or Tottenham on Friday, we know that we can go and win games. All the boys know that
The Lilywhites’ U23s, managed by experienced coach Wayne Burnett, opened their 2020/21 season with a 1-1 home draw against last season’s surprise package, Brighton & Hove Albion.
Lewis, however, has been at the heart of U23s sides who have conquered a number of high-flying sides in recent months, and is confident he and his teammates will fear no-one upon their return to the top-flight of Premier League 2.
“I think we know that we can beat any team, and we showed that with our performance – if not the result in the end – against Chelsea,” he continued.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Chelsea on Monday or Tottenham on Friday, we know that we can go and win games. All the boys know that if we play how we know we can play, we’ll get results quickly, looking forwards.
“I think we’ll respond positively. We’ll have trained hard and we’ll go into the game confident off the back of our last performance. Hopefully we can start the season properly with a win at Tottenham, and then kick on properly with our season.”
West Ham United Under-23s take on Tottenham Under-23s on Friday 18 September in a behind-closed-doors fixture. Kick-off is at 12noon; you can follow all the action with our live blog on whufc.com from 11.30am.
Please note that all Academy fixtures will be played behind closed doors until further notice. Only key personnel will be admitted on site and matches will be played without supporters present, in line with safety guidelines and social distancing measures still in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.