Since Sam Allardyce has come in to the club a clear message from him has been how important clean sheets can be to Premier League survival and since conceding 46 goals in 25 matches, the last three games have demonstrated his point.
Three wins without conceding have moved the side out of the bottom three and defender James Tomkins told us after Saturday’s victory against Watford how the work put in on the training ground to turn that goals against stat around is paying off.
“In recent weeks the boss has taken us to one side on the training ground, both as a defensive unit but also as a team group, to work on our shape with a massive emphasis being on clean sheets, something which he has always been known for, wherever he has managed.
“It is not just about the back four and the keeper but also those working from the front, sitting in when needed and then breaking out in numbers on counter attacks when the opportunity comes about in games.
“In recent weeks this work has been paying off because to get three consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League just gives us such a great lift and shows how our defensive play is key to our chances.”
The 27 year old defender has seen how confidence which has come from the unbeaten run has helped the team during games with the knowledge that at the other end there are players who are capable of breaking the deadlock.
“At times before we would tried to chase the game, maybe conceded and then its backs against the wall but now there is a confidence all around the team that we can keep clean sheets and that really is great for us all out on the pitch. We need to keep the run going though because it has been brilliant for us, knowing that with not conceding at one end we can score goals at the other.”
In recent weeks alongside Tomkins has been a new member of the backline with Mamadou Sakho taking his place in the first of those victories and there is already a good understanding being struck up between the two.
“I think my game is coming along nicely, in recent weeks I have had a different centre-half partner in Mamadou and I feel we are getting a good relationship going there at the back. We complement each other at times, he is a very cool and calm customer and he’s good to play alongside and thankfully it’s been working out well with the team of late.”
With the international break now upon us the squad now have a couple of weeks before they have an opportunity of extending the unbeaten run but Tomkins emphasised that the group will use the confidence over the international period to keep the momentum in place as the battle for points continues to intensify.
“The momentum we are gaining right from that first win of the three against Middlesbrough is so important, we can all look back and remember games in recent weeks where we didn’t get the victories in games that we needed but these these results have given the whole club a massive confidence boost and we need to continue this as we have many more important games to face as the season goes on.”
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