Alphonse Areola: West Ham came back to London with an important point
Alphonse Areola was proud to help West Ham United gain an ‘important point’ with a superb goalkeeping performance in Thursday’s 2-2 UEFA Europa League Group H draw at KRC Genk.
The France international may have conceded his first goals in a Hammers jersey, but had he not made a string of saves to frustrate the Belgian Cup holders, he would have finished on the losing side for the first time too.
Instead, Areola kept his team in the game in the first half and, thanks to two second-half strikes from Said Benrahma, West Ham kept their unbeaten European record intact and were only denied another famous victory by Tomas Soucek’s unfortunate late own-goal.
We have a really good group and I think we’re here for one thing and that’s to win every single game, so I think we can go far and compete
“It was unlucky for me and for the team because we wanted to get the win, but we go back to London with an important point,” Areola reflected.
The Paris Saint-Germain loanee’s performance earned rave reviews from the journalists present at the Cegeka Arena and led to one asking Areola if he felt his form in cup competitions warranted a place in Moyes’ starting XI for the Premier League, where Lukasz Fabianski has also performed well as regular starter No1.
“I’m just working as much as I can every day, trying to help the team, so I’m just trying to do my best and the Gaffer will make his choices,” Areola observed, before pointing out how happy he is as a member of Moyes’ squad.
“Everyone welcomed me. I was really happy to sign for West Ham and the guys just welcomed me very well. We have a little group of French of players which helped me a lot and I feel confident with them and with this team.
“We have a really good group and I think we’re here for one thing and that’s to win every single game, so I think we can go far and compete.”
Areola is likely to return to the substitutes’ bench for Sunday’s home Premier League fixture with Liverpool, before he heads off on international duty with France, having been recalled alongside clubmate Kurt Zouma to Didier Deschamps’ squad ahead of two vital 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with Kazakhstan and France.
Whether he plays this weekend or not, the 28-year-old is grateful his form in the Europa League and Carabao Cup has been recognised by his fellow World Cup winner, but before then he is hoping the Hammers can continue their superb Premier League form and complete an unbeaten run of seven games between international breaks when they face the Reds this weekend.
“I was happy with this news and I’m happy to be back with the national team,” he confirmed. “It shows I’m doing a good job until now. I’m really happy but we have an important game before then on Sunday, so I’m looking forward to that game and I’ll think about the national team after that.
“Of course, the Gaffer said we can compete for the top four and I think we’ve shown good things in our games, so we’re just going to prepare for that game and the way we’re playing we’ll move forward and try to win that game and see what happens.”