May 23 2013 Latest news:
Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Hammers defender Guy Demel returned from injury to help West Ham grab all three points at Newcastle on Sunday
When Guy Demel spent a year at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger deemed he was not good enough to play in the Premier League.
Some 10 years later and the Ivory Coast international is feeling more and more at home in England’s top flight after he came off the bench to help West Ham to another clean sheet in their 1-0 win at Newcastle.
The 31-year-old has figured in four of the five shut-outs in the Premier League this term, but Demel is quick to point out how important everyone is.
“Everyone in the team defends,” insisted the full back. “Of course, there is the back four and the keeper, but the whole team defends and even the players when they come off the bench have done well.
“When the first defender is the striker, then everything works well.”
After an injury-ruined first season at Upton Park, the former Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg defender made the right back slot his own at the start of the season, only to be ruled out once again.
“I tore my hernia, so I had to have an operation two weeks ago,” revealed Demel. “After a couple of days we started the rehab and everything went really well.
“This week was my first week back in training and I got the opportunity to play 20 minutes, so I was very happy, though I need a couple more games to get back to my top form.”
Some players would be worried about getting injured and losing their place, but such is the manner of the softly-spoken Demel and such is the spirit in the West Ham ranks, the African does not mind a bit.
“That kind of thing happens in a season,” he said. “What is important is the team, so it doesn’t really matter who plays. I am happy that the players in my position in the couple of games I missed did really well.
“It is good to have competition in the team and now I am just looking to get back to my best form and give my best when the coach and the team need me.
“It is always better to come back into a team that is winning, rather than come back in a team that is struggling.”
West Ham were beginning to struggle on Sunday as Newcastle piled on the pressure at St James’ Park and with 20 minutes left it was the situation that Demel was thrust into when George McCartney was forced off through injury.
“Of course, it is quite a difficult thing to do because the game was quite intensive,” admitted the defender.
“Newcastle were really pushing in the last few minutes, but I think we did really well and my team-mates really helped me as well, but it wasn’t easy.
“Ben Arfa and some of their other lads are quick so it is difficult to catch them, but the most important thing is that we won this game, we are near the top of the league and it is a good start to the season.”
It certainly is and the return of Demel is another boost to the squad. He confessed he was sore after his cameo in Newcastle, but will be ready for the clash with Stoke City next Monday.
West Ham seem to be a better side with Demel playing at right back, but they will have to do without him for up to five games in January when he travels to South Africa for the finals of the African Cup of Nations.