The battle of the big number ones

BEFORE Sunday s clash at Upton Park, so much of the talk was about Edwin Van der Sar and his battle for a new league record, writes DAVE EVANS. The Dutch custodian had gone 1,122 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal and all eyes were on him to

BEFORE Sunday's clash at Upton Park, so much of the talk was about Edwin Van der Sar and his battle for a new league record, writes DAVE EVANS.

The Dutch custodian had gone 1,122 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal and all eyes were on him to see if he could break the record at West Ham.

But at the other end, Hammers goalkeeper Rob Green had been quietly going about his own business - impressively enough to be included in Fabio Capello's England squad this week.

Green's run without conceding a goal finally ended at 410 minutes on Sunday when Ryan Giggs drilled a shot into his far corner, but a sequence of not far short of seven hours without letting in a goal has been a convincing one by the Hammers number one.


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The 29-year-old was certainly happy with the way the team competed on Sunday, but he is looking for more from the team.

"I don't think United got into fifth gear at any point," he said. "They stepped it up a bit until they scored at the start of the second half and then they stepped it down a bit once they had managed it.

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"They've had a lot of 1-0 wins recently and that was another similar performance I imagine.

"I don't think we really troubled them too much though, which was disappointing."

The Hammers have now faced Arsenal and Manchester United in consecutive weeks and Green feels that the team were not outplayed by either.

"I think it is a measure of how far we've come. We're on a good run of form and it is good to continue that. We'd like to have won today, but it's a step in the right direction," said Green.

"A few months ago, people would have been dreading this game, but now you get the feeling that people are disappointed by the result.

"Expectations have risen and none more so than among the players themselves."

Much of Van der Sar's success has been put down to the strength of his defence, and the same can certainly be said at West Ham, where James Collins and Matty Upson in particular have been simply outstanding.

Everything that United threw at the West Ham defence was dispatched to safety, until something of an abberation by first Carlton Cole and then Scott Parker allowed Giggs to skip into the box and fire in the winner.

"It was a disappointing goal to concede," admitted Green afterwards.

"But all in all, we've played United and Arsenal and we've held our own and done okay, although we've never really troubled either team too much.

"I've got to take something from the game, because we played well, and so the goal was probably the only disappointment of the afternoon."

Green and West Ham can take comfort from the fact that they were playing the European and World champions on Sunday and yet did not look outclassed.

Van der Sar's bandwagon rolls on - he has now gone over 20 hours without conceding - but West Ham will take heart from the fact that they won't have to take on a side in that sort of form again this season.

Green, himself, certainly thinks they are set for another Premier League title.

"It is difficult to look elsewhere to be honest," he admitted. "They've got injuries, but they've got so many players who can come off the bench and do something.

"They can afford not to bring players like Wayne Rooney, so it is looking a very difficult proposition for anyone else to take the title off them."

Indeed Green may never take the that record off Van der Sar either, but as long as he is between the sticks for West Ham, then the team will have a chance of competing with the very best.

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