West Ham have to play with freedom in finale – Johnson

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 July 2020

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (left) and West Ham United's Ben Johnson in action during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (left) and West Ham United's Ben Johnson in action during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

PA Wire/PA Images

Young defender Ben Johnson says West Ham need to lay down a marker for next season as they complete the delayed 2019-20 Premier League campaign against Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Hammers ensured their safety with a 1-1 draw against Manchester United in midweek, as full-back Johnson impressed at Old Trafford.

And David Moyes’ men will look to end on a high at London Stadium against a Villa side still fighting for their own survival.

Johnson told “It’s about looking at next season. We’ve got to enjoy the draw. We probably could’ve won with the chances we had.

“I think just play with freedom on Sunday and continue it to next season and build on that, because I think we’ll only have three weeks off and then we’ll be back in pre-season.

“So it’s not really a long break. We can build momentum from Sunday. You see Sheffield Unitedhaving a wonderful season, so why can’t we do that?

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“With our keeper Lukasz Fabianski and the back four, the foundation we have allows to build. And the front three have shown we can goals from the restart, so who knows?”

The 20-year-old Johnson had looked assured in the crucial 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Watford last Friday and kept Marcus Rashford quiet for long spells on Wednesday.

And the academy graduate said it was a relief to have stayed up after the three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “We’ve come back and learned from our manager. He’s give us results and we’re just delighted to mathematically be safe.

“Having so long a break, there was uncertainty in the squad, but I think we’ve dug deep, we’ve played football like we can – we can go to another level as well – and just getting results is what we want and what we can do.

“We’ve had a difficult seasno, not the season we expected, but in the last couple of games we’ve shown what we can do and that we can go up a notch, so it’s just delightful to see us playing with freedom and together as a team.

“Attacking-wise we’re dangerous and defensively we’re strong, so hopefully we’ll just bring that into next season.”

Sunday’s game against Aston Villa kicks off at 4pm and is being shown live on BT Sport from 3pm.

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