Łukasz Fabiański says West Ham United head to Serbia with a one-track mind – making sure they arrive at the UEFA Europa League Group A finale still top of the table.
The Irons know a victory at FK TSC Bačka Topola on Thursday will maintain their edge over SC Freiburg before they go head-to-head with the German side at London Stadium in a fortnight.
Fabiański is determined for the Irons to go into that contest in pole position, especially given top spot carries with it the advantage of skipping the competition’s round of 32 in the Spring.
The Poland stopper has played in three of our four Europa League ties to date, starting the 3-1 win over TSC back in September, and is looking forward to the challenge of facing a side who toppled the Serbian SuperLiga leaders Partizan Belgrade by a 4-0 scoreline at the weekend.
“It’s very important to win the group,” Fabiański stated. “We all know that if you finish by winning the group, you avoid one stage of the competition and go directly into the round of 16.
“So it is very important, especially with the amount of games in December it’s always good to make sure by our performances and results we can maybe skip some of them, which in the end would be very useful for us.
“We know from the first game they were a difficult team to play against and we had to dig deep to get the result.
“They managed to beat one of the biggest teams in Serbia 4-0 at the weekend, so it shows they are a strong team, playing at home, and it will be a difficult challenge for us.
“We come here prepared, we’re ready and hopefully we will be able put in a good performance and get a good result.”
Fabiański’s chances this season have come in the cup competitions with Alphonse Areola assuming the role between the posts in the Premier League.
The Poland stopper is enjoying the challenge of playing in Europe again, having played a supporting role to Areola in each of the past two continental campaigns.
With the Irons navigating a hectic winter schedule too, he is delighted to be able to play his part in helping the squad through that time.
“It’s a good challenge for me personally to play in the cup games,” he added. “I didn’t play in Europe in the last two years, so the role is a bit different and I’m looking forward to every single game.
“I try to do my best and play the best I can to help the team.
“Obviously it’s a very demanding schedule, but at the same time we actually work for it. We want to be the team competing in different competitions and we have the opportunity to compete in Europe at the same time we’ve progressed in the League Cup, so I think that speaks volumes about how we are progressing and developing as a team.
“Playing that many games for the third year in a row, we as players are used to it. It’s not something that we are afraid of, we have experience that we know we can manage it and we are happy with where we are and we are really looking forward to the games."
“Every single player is hoping that they will have the opportunity to play their part in those games, so it’s a good thing for us.”