Mark Robson speaks to West Ham United U21s during their match with Arsenal

Robson: We just lacked a little bit of quality

Mark Robson feels his West Ham United U21s were simply missing a little bit of quality in their passing and possession as the Hammers fell to a 3-2 home defeat to Arsenal. 

The young Irons were undone at Rush Green Stadium by a Marquinhos double and a James Olayinka strike, after Kamarai Swyer had given them the early advantage with a well-taken finish. 

Mipo Odubeko netted his second goal in as many games to reduce the deficit and give West Ham a fighting chance in a spirited second-half effort, but the Hammers were unable to get back into the fixture. 

Speaking after the contest, Robson was disappointed with the defending – particularly for Arsenal’s first – but could find positives in the team’s second half efforts. 

Mark, how do you reflect on the defeat to Arsenal?

“I thought Arsenal were really good. They played some really good football and passed it really well, and it was really easy on the eye. They had some really talented players going forward and it was a very tough game.”

We need to find a little bit more quality with our passing, which teams like Arsenal have, and that’s where we want to get to.
Mark Robson

Kamarai Swyer gave us the lead on 13 minutes. From your perspective, how disappointing was it to concede so quickly afterwards?

“When you look at the first goal, it’s poor defending. The ball that comes in should be stopped and then. We don’t want to concede those types of goals.

“We actually spoke last week and, just again to the lads in the changing room, about man management. At Fulham last week we got back to 2-1 and then, straight from the kick-off, they had an opportunity to score, and it was the same again today. We score and within a minute, they’ve scored, and it was really poor defending. It wasn’t good enough and we have to be miles better in that regard.”

Defensively, it was a tough evening against a good Arsenal team…

“To concede three is too many. That’s six in two games and that’s not good enough. But there’s a few younger lads in there that are finding their way in the U21s and that’s part of the learning process for them. It’s down to us to make sure we keep on helping them and developing them, and hopefully we’ll see improvement as we go along.”

Mark Robson in the dug out for West Ham United U21s v Arsenal U21s

Our lads got after Arsenal more in the second half. Was it pleasing to see that spirited effort?

“I felt we got after them a bit more in the second half. We didn’t get close enough to them in the first half so we wanted to try and change that a bit in the second half. We did it okay. 

“We won the ball back a bit more and had a bit more possession but, overall, we lacked a little bit of quality. We need to find a little bit more quality with our passing, which teams like Arsenal have, and that’s where we want to get to.”

Finally, we welcomed fans back to Rush Green Stadium for the first time in three seasons. Was it good to feel their presence again?

“It was really nice for the boys to play in front of a bit of a home crowd again. Obviously, we’d like to have given them a bit of a better performance because we want them to keep coming back. But I think we’ll get there. Hopefully we can start to find our way in the next couple of weeks and get some wins on the board.”