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Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Friday, 14 January 2011

Avram Grant sets West Ham players survival target

Barclays Premier League
Venue: Upton Park Date: Saturday, 15 January Kick-off: 1730 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on ESPN and highlights on Match of the Day; listen on talkSPORT and BBC local radio; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

Avram Grant
Grant says he has the backing of the West Ham owners

West Ham boss Avram Grant believes the club must adopt realistic short-term goals if they are to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The Hammers - who face London rivals Arsenal on Saturday - are bottom of the table with 20 points from 22 games, a point behind 17th-placed Wolves.

"I think we need to look in the mirror and see what we are now," said Grant.

"I don't say anything against the people in the past but our target is very clear, not to be relegated."

He added: "I believe very much in this club. But we were not Barcelona in the last year and the years before."

Grant also suggested that a total of 35 points - which was enough to ensure survival last season - will not be enough to avoid relegation this term and predicted many twists in the coming months.

You think we are all arrogant, confident people, but when you do not have success for a while, the doubt creeps in quickly. It is about belief

Arsene Wenger

"We will have many changes in the table," said Grant. "Nothing will be decided this month.

"It is not just football, it's about spirit. There will be seven teams or more [involved in the relegation battle].

"Last season it was 35 points [to survive], this season I don't think 35 will be enough.

"I don't know how much more but it's very important to be strong against the teams around you."

First up though is Saturday's encounter with title-chasing Arsenal at Upton Park, a game the Hammers come into having lost just one of their last seven matches - a run that includes successive home victories over Barnsley and Birmingham in the FA Cup and Carling Cup respectively.

"We are developing," claimed Grant. "Three months ago we were playing good football but football is about results.

"We are improving also because the spirit is very good, which you saw the other night. I feel every game we can win."

Despite a 5-0 loss at Newcastle in their previous league match , Grant insists he has the backing of the club's owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, to the extent that they are discussing potential transfer targets during the January transfer window.

Grant revealed: "We were speaking about the situation and David Gold was very supportive. In the last game David Sullivan and I were speaking about players to make the squad stronger. We are busy about this."

One possible recruit is Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, with Spurs boss Harry Redknapp admitting the Hammers had shown an interest in the Republic of Ireland international.

Grant confirmed: "We have a few targets we want to bring in. It's not a secret that I am friends with Harry and I speak with him every couple of days. He [Keane] is a player we want to bring for sure. We are dealing with this."


Grant, meanwhile, poured cold water on reports that defender Matthew Upson could leave the club and rejoin Arsenal.

"I'm sure if [Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger wanted a player from me I would have got a call from him but I didn't receive a call," Grant said. "He is our player. He is very committed to the club."

Grant has already brought in left-back Wayne Bridge on loan from Manchester City this January and the former England international is likely to start against the Gunners, who will be hoping to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Ipswich in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final on Wednesday .

"We are of course sorry [for the defeat at Ipswich] and we want to put things right in the second leg," said Wenger, whose side can reduce the gap between themselves and table-toppers Manchester United (who play Tottenham at home on Sunday) to a point with victory at Upton Park.

"If you play like that at West Ham you will lose. We will not play like that at West Ham and we want to win at West Ham.

"What is important for us is we go to West Ham and expect them to be up for it and for us to be prepared mentally.

Wenger remains confident despite defeat

"It is a Premier League game and it is a derby. This season the Premier League has been very tight in every game and so we expect us to produce a top-level performance to win the game, that is what we want to achieve."

Wenger admitted that defeats such as that suffered by his side at Portman Road can affect confidence, but backed his players to bounce back.

"You think we are all arrogant, confident people, but when you do not have success for a while, the doubt creeps in quickly. It is about belief," Wenger said.

"We have belief, yes. We are on a good run in the Premier League, we believe in our strengths, that is why it is always important to respond strongly to disappointments."

Arsenal were undone on Wednesday by Ipswich's direct style of play - with Tamas Priskin's winner coming from a long ball forward - but Wenger was quick to refute that his side are a soft touch at the back.

"I have seen many games where it is the Achilles heel of any team - we have to deal with that and we wanted to deal with that at Ipswich," said the Frenchman.

"That was the only problem we faced and they did that in a consistent way - we had 70% of the ball and when you have that you want to create more than we did."

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see also
West Ham 0-3 Arsenal
15 Jan 11 |  Premier League
Fabregas blasts long-ball tactics
13 Jan 11 |  Arsenal
Hammers boss Grant given reprieve
12 Jan 11 |  West Ham
'Naive' Arsenal disappoint Wenger
12 Jan 11 |  League Cup
Ipswich 1-0 Arsenal
12 Jan 11 |  League Cup
Bridge makes West Ham loan switch
12 Jan 11 |  West Ham
West Ham 2-1 Birmingham
11 Jan 11 |  League Cup
West Ham 2-0 Barnsley
08 Jan 11 |  FA Cup

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