West Ham have eased their Premier League relegation fears

02 January 2011 10:54
West Ham climbed out of the Barclays Premier League drop zone for the first time this season with Saturday's 2-0 home victory over Wolves their fourth consecutive game without defeat.

Laura Williamson discovers what has changed for the Hammers.



Change in fortunes: Avram Grant has helped revive West Ham's season

YOUNG ONES COME GOOD Manager Avram Grant, whohimself has moved out of thebottom three for the first timesince he took over at Portsmouthin November 2009, said: 'Webrought in three young playerswhen we were at the bottom ofthe league. I don't think thatmany teams would do that.'

Arguably, with 10 senior first-teamplayers sidelined with injury,Grant had little choice but to useRuud Boffin, 23, Freddie Sears, 21,and Junior Stanislas, 22. But,nevertheless, the decisionhas paid off with interest.

AtBlackburn, Boffin deputised ingoal for Robert Green andStanislas scored a late equaliserwhile Sears has been a real find.

Impact: Youngsters like Junior Stanislas have helped steady the sinking West Ham ship

FREDDIE'S ON FIRE Recalled from a loan spell atScunthorpe, the West Hamacademy product has impressedon the right wing. Grant shouldtake the credit for playing him inthis position, rather than on theleft or as a second striker.

Searssaid his manager has told him to'express himself rather than hide'and he did that on Saturday. Onlya fantastic clearance fromRichard Stearman denied him agoal after 40 minutes, but hescored his first since March 2008in the second half.

Sears did find the back of the neton loan for Crystal Palace againstBristol City in August 2009 but,unfortunately for him, this wasthe 'phantom goal' that was notgiven.

He said: 'I have beenworking hard on my finishingsince I got back and I want to getmy rewards on the pitch. It hasbeen a long wait. It is good to getit off my back.'

Back home: Academy graduate Freddie Sears has played well on his return from loan

ROB'S RESURRECTIONGrant is fond of saying he is nolonger asked questions aboutGreen's confidence or ability.Indeed, the goalkeeper has beennamed as the club's man of thematch in West Ham's last twohome games.

He made three good saves at thestart of the second half to keepthe Hammers in the game againstWolves and denied Everton a latewinner when he saved aMarouane Fellaini effort from aSteven Pienaar corner.

Green still has a tendency topunch the ball back into playrather than catch it, but he hasconceded seven goals in his lastsix games, as opposed to 25 in thefirst 14 matches this season.

Back to his best: Robert Green is starting to silence his critics at Upton Park

WALLY'S WELLY Wally Downes's arrival asdefensive coach in Novemberhas coincided with West Ham'schange in fortunes. Apart fromduring the 3-1 defeat byManchester City on December 11,they have looked a more soliddefensive unit albeit againstsides like Fulham, Wolves andEverton.

Downes also spurs theteam on from the touchline,where he is a particularly vocaland energetic presence.Another key element has beenthe selection of central defendersJames Tomkins and MatthewUpson.

The pair have started thelast seven games together asWest Ham have mustered threewins and two draws, earning 11 oftheir 20 points so far.

Dream team: Wally Downes has helped Grant ease West Ham's relegation fears

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT.Week in , week out, Grantcomplained about refereeingdecisions. Suddenly, things seemto be going West Ham's way.

Thishas been vital over the festiveperiod, as the club's games havebeen against teams in the bottomhalf of the table.

There is an argument that youmake your own luck in football,but West Ham were fortuitousagainst Wolves with RonaldZubar's own goal and SylvanEbanks-Blake heading againstthe bar with the score 1-0.

 West Ham should move into Olympic Stadium. not Spurs, claims CoeWest Ham 2 Wolves 0: Zubar own goal and Sears send Hammers soaringChelsea weigh up joining Birmingham and West Ham in race for Bothroyd

 Explore more:People: Freddie Sears, Robert Green

Source: Daily_Mail