Jacobsen: Defence holds the key to West Ham survival

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The Independent Football

West Ham suddenly cannot stop scoring but Lars Jacobsen admits their Premier League survival hopes may now rest on preventing goals at the other end. On Sunday Jacobsen helped the east London side keep their hopes of a great escape alive as they produced arguably their best performance of the season to beat Liverpool 3-1 and climb off the foot of the table.

They have now netted 11 goals in their last three games in all competitions, with Carlton Cole and new loan signing Demba Ba scoring the lion's share. However, they have not kept a clean sheet in the Premier League since New Year's Day and went close to throwing away victory yesterday before Cole came off the bench to thwart a late Liverpool rally.

"It seems like we're able to score now. We just need to keep a clean sheet," said right-back Jacobsen, whose mix-up with team-mate James Tomkins led to the visitors' goal. "I thought he was going for it and, obviously, he thought I was going for it. We can't allow that to happen again. It's just bad."

As well as their strikers, the Hammers' midfielders have also been weighing in with goals in recent games, Thomas Hitzlsperger scoring on his long-awaited debut against Burnley and the talismanic Scott Parker finding the net yesterday.

Jacobsen said: "I think we can score goals from a lot of positions on the pitch and that certainly makes a difference. It's important to be a threat from the midfield positions."

The late defensive wobble did not detract from one of West Ham's best displays since Jacobsen joined the club last summer. The Dane said: "I think it's one of the top performances, no doubt about that. I think it was a fully deserved victory. I know the last 20 to 25 minutes, we were a little bit on the heels. It's normal in our situation. You get a little bit scared of conceding goals. But in the main part of the game, we played brilliant football, we created chances and we defended well."

He added: "Obviously, the three points were very important – we all know about that. But, mentally, beating Liverpool is tremendous and, hopefully, it can give us a lot going into the next couple of games. It's not enough to win. We need to win some more games and, hopefully, it can help us, this victory."

Liverpool's defeat was their first major setback since Kenny Dalglish's appointment sparked a mini revival. More bad news is expected today on right-back Martin Kelly, who was forced off with what looked like a serious hamstring injury. The England Under-21 international, who was due to undergo a scan, told his club's official website: "I knew straight away I had injured my hamstring. I took Scott Parker on down the right and when I took my last touch I felt a pull in my hamstring and there was no way I could carry on."

With reports suggesting a four-week absence, Kelly looks certain to miss Sunday's game against Manchester United. He added: "We were all disappointed with the result and our performance."