Tony Cottee: West Ham defeat to Arsenal is deflating but encouraging

West Ham legend Tony Cottee analysis last weekends 1-0 defeat to the Gunners

It would have been deflating for the players to concede a late goal and lose against Arsenal, but there are plenty of positives to take from the performance.

West Ham defended particularly well and although Arsenal created chances it was not the siege that it could have been.

Frederic Piquionne led the line well and held up possession, giving the defence much-needed mental and physical rest.

Manuel Da Costa and Danny Gabbidon played very well at the heart of the defence and Robert Green made some excellent saves to keep the Gunners out.

It was great to see him put in such a good performance after the way he has been vilified in the press over the past few months.

He has made some high profile mistakes, but what has impressed me about Rob is that he is extremely upbeat and doesn’t let things get to him, which as a goalkeeper is particularly important.

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He made some fantastic saves against Arsenal and no-one can doubt his shot-stopping ability, which has always been one of his strong points and I doubt I’ll forget his save against Luka Modric earlier in the season for quite some time.

His decision-making and concentration have let him down in the past, so it has been great to see him in such good form over the past few matches.

Players and managers are not stupid and they know it is going to be a tough match against a side like Arsenal, who on their day could destroy most teams in the division.

It was like that when I played and heading up to places like Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United we knew a 0-0 draw would be a tremendous result.

I have no problem with West Ham setting up in a 4-5-1 formation, because the priority at the Emirates should be to stay in the game as long as possible and I felt it was the best way to keep Arsenal at bay.

I doubt the players confidence would have been affected too much and I actually believe the victory over Stoke in the Carling Cup last week could actually be the turning point.

We played badly in the first half hour, but showed character to come back, score a late equaliser then go on to win the game and set up an exciting tie against Manchester United at Upton Park.

The win will have boosted the belief no end amongst the squad and the players would have been buzzing going into training the next day and I don’t think confidence would have been dented at all by Saturday’s defeat, which most felt would be by a greater margin.

The fact remains we are bottom of the table and are three points adrift of the side above us and although we have had tough fixtures so far, we have also dropped points where we should not have.

The table is so tight in the bottom half and two wins will see you fly up the league, but losses against Bolton and Newcastle are why we are propping up the rest and boss Avram Grant is under pressure.

Those six points could have pushed up as high as ninth with the pressure on the boss significantly lifted.

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