Tomáš Souček says West Ham United need to change their mentality and remain on the front foot for the whole 90 minutes to avoid more ‘crazy’ finishes to their Premier League matches.
The Hammers made it ten wins in their last 15 Premier League games and climbed back up to fourth position with a thrilling 3-2 home victory over Leicester City on Sunday.
The Irons raced into a three-goal lead before sitting back and allowing their opponents to stage a second half comeback for the third match in succession. Thankfully, unlike the previous home game against Arsenal, who snatched a 3-3 draw, and like the previous Monday’s away fixture at Wolverhampton Wanderers, David Moyes’ men held on to secure three more valuable points.
Souček, who set up Jarrod Bowen for what turned out to be the match-winning goal against the Foxes, says he and his teammates need to rid themselves of the habit of retreating into their own third of the pitch after establishing a commanding lead.
It’s great that we have another three points but we have to play for the full 90 minutes, not only 60 or 70 minutes
“It’s true, the last two, three or even more games have been really tough for us physically and psychologically, because the last three games we were winning 3-0 and every game was very crazy in stoppage time!” he told West Ham TV.
“In the first game against Arsenal we made a draw, but we were able to hold off the danger and win the last two 3-2, so it’s great that we have another three points but we have to play for the full 90 minutes, not only 60 or 70 minutes.
“I think it’s a mentality in our heads because last season when we fought relegation we played like this, for example [in the 3-2 home win] against Chelsea, when we stayed only in our box because we wanted to win too much.
“But it’s dangerous. It’s so much safer if we play with the same style [as we started the game], we press them high and we want to keep the ball. That’s much safer, so we need to change our mentality to this way.
“The first 60 minutes was incredible. We were winning 3-0 and we could have had more goals and I don’t remember them having a chance, so it was very good from us offensively and defensively. We need to carry on in this way for the whole 90 minutes.”
West Ham lost Aaron Cresswell and Mark Noble to injuries during the second half of Sunday’s victory – a game they started without Declan Rice, Michail Antonio, Angelo Ogbonna, Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini and Darren Randolph.
However, the Czech Footballer of the Year is confident that the Irons have the strength in depth to maintain their challenge near the top of the Premier League table.
“It’s great because not only here on a matchday but every day at Rush Green it’s the same – we have a very good spirit and we fight for each other every minute,” he confirmed.
“When someone loses the ball, the second one wants to take it back, so our mentality is great and this way is good because we can look and see it in the table.
“We only need to carry on like this and we may have lost players to injury, but I trust our team that we have not only ten, eleven or 12 players, but more than 20 very good players and we are one team.”
Next up is a trip to a resurgent Newcastle United, who have themselves welcomed key players back from injury in recent games and have eased their relegation fears with four points from their last two games, a 2-2 home draw with Tottenham Hotspur followed by a 2-1 win at Burnley on Sunday.
Souček, who scored in a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park in July, knows the Magpies will present a difficult test, but he believes West Ham have enough to score a 17th Premier League win of an increasingly memorable season.
“It’s true that we will go there confident because we won on Sunday and we are higher in the table again and we are going there for another fight.
“There are still many games to the end and we have to go to Newcastle and do as well as possible and I trust that we have the strength to beat them and stay as high as we want in the table.”