There’s no surprise that with our recent form there has been one big difference to the poor results of the preceding months, the return of Collins, Tomkins and Reid to our defensive options. It’s a mightier sight watching the balding head of Collins clear the ball or Tomkins last ditch tackles, than having to throw the likes of McCartney into an unfamiliar position and panicking to the point of Roger Johnson, who is just not up to the level we need at the Boleyn Ground.
The partnership of Collins and Tomkins has been so formidable over recent weeks that last season’s Hammer of the Year, Winston Reid, can barely get a look in since his return from injury. Restricted to just two substitute appearances, not many West Ham fans would have predicted he wouldn’t be able to get a look in after his start to the season.
But Collins and Tomkins are reaping rewards of a steady back four and neither deserve to lose their place in a side that has kept four consecutive clean sheets. This recent run in the side has been brilliant for Tomkins especially, a great prospect who paid the price of representing his country at the London Olympics, the same competition that Reid rejected to play in for New Zealand to focus on West Ham United.
It is no blight on Tomkins that he jumped at the chance to play for Team Great Britain, but it meant he missed some pre-season and spent the rest of the season as third-choice to Collins and Reid. To have all three players back fighting fit and putting their bodies on the line to grab the team by the scruff of the neck and pull our club out of the relegation zone really is a wonderful sight
The defensive solidity of the recent games against Chelsea, Swansea, Villa and Norwich has been a team effort. The likes of Adrian, Noble and Matty Taylor have played their part in the form that has seen us pick up 10 points from the last four matches. But certainly having the ability to play centre-backs in their rightful position has been a large contribution to the defensive side of the team.
It is why we have kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League this season. Following our quite lengthy blip in the season, when we were missing key players throughout the spine of the side, we are now seeing the team return to being a Sam Allardyce side, tough to beat and full of effort from everyone on the pitch.
February was always pointed at as a key month and a win against Southampton would certainly make it one of the best periods in recent years, and in no small part has the returns of Collins, Reid and Tomkins contributed to West Ham’s climb up the table.