George Parris: ‘Could Areola win Hammer of the Year? He’s had an incredible season between the posts’

Some will say that’s what goalkeepers are paid to do but he’s been kept busy and he’s been up to the task

Alphonse Areola (WHU) makes a save at the West Ham United v Manchester City EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th September, 2023.

Before we played Brentford, after the month we’d had with three defeats against United, Arsenal and Forest, I thought it was a must-win game for us at home. I also would’ve taken a point on the road against Everton so to get both victories from those two games, it’s a bonus.

I know Everton have been struggling recently, but it’s still a tough place to go and win. I know from past experience, I never won there. Ultimately, how we won the game too, scoring two late goals, made it even sweeter, didn’t it?

Soucek has made a bit of a habit of scoring late on in games for us but he’s one of those players who is like Marmite for the fans. You always get people who say he doesn’t do this or he doesn’t do that but he certainly knows how to find the back of the net.

I think in all sides, you need a blend of different talents. His height is always going to help us in defence as well as attack. You can’t have a team full of ball-juggling players can you? You’ve got to have that blend but because of sometimes what he does and doesn’t do, he’s the one that gets highlighted more.

Looking back to the United game last month, it was all about chances. We didn’t take ours and they took theirs. That game turned on the chance that fell for Emerson, he missed and then they went up the other end and scored.

We actually played that game a bit more on the front foot which I think we can do more often, and that’s why the Brentford game was so pleasing that we started off that way and showed what can be done. As for the Arsenal game, I think the game was summed up by the goals we gave away from set pieces. That was schoolboy marking and epitomised the whole day.

I think we got away quite lightly with it only being six. On the day if someone said Arsenal needed to score eight, then they probably would’ve got that so it could’ve been worse. Were Arsenal that good, or were we that bad? I think it’s a combination of the two on the day.

You can’t defend our defending but Arsenal were clinical in taking their chances. It was a very bad day at the office for us. Then we went to Nottingham Forest off the back of these two defeats, and I think at worst we should’ve left with a point.

But I think where the game fell, no disrespect to them, if we were playing them this week at their place, we’d go there and beat them. It’s sometimes just how the games fall. The beauty of football though is, as I always say, there’s always another game and now we’ve won two on the bounce and everything is looking more positive again.

It’s going to be a massive month for us with our Europa League tie with Freiburg. I’m writing this before the first leg but depending on what happens over in Germany, you look at the Burnley game, and you might be able to rotate players because hopefully we get a good result over there.

Our league status is safe. We’ll be in the Premier League next season whatever happens. I think where we are now is roughly where we are in the pecking order, we just need to target one or two of the home games, and hopefully stay in the top seven.

One player who has stood out for me lately is Areola. He’s been on it this season and pulled off some incredible saves lately. Some will say that’s what goalkeepers are paid to do but he’s been kept busy and he’s been up to the task and had a very good season. But sometimes with goalkeepers, they go under the radar but could he be  a contender for Hammer of the Year? I’d like to think so.

Looking at our defensive record this season, I think in a lot of the games, there’s been individual mistakes and that makes a big difference. It’s hard enough as it is without making your own mistakes so it’s easy to say if you cut them out, then we’ll shore things up.

But that’ll make it a lot easier for sure if we can cut out these mistakes and that’ll make it harder for teams to carve us up. We’ve got Villa, Newcastle, Spurs and Wolves coming up, and I think we will need to take each game as it comes, especially if we’re still in Europe.

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