West Ham manager Sam Allardyce wants happy new year to continue

West Ham drew 2-2 in their last match

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The Independent Football

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has been pleased with his side's reaction to what proved to be a poor festive period for the Hammers.

After beating Chelsea 3-1 at Upton Park on December 1, West Ham failed to win another Barclays Premier League game in 2012 and picked up just one point in the process.

But a New Year's Day victory over Norwich and a draw in the third-round FA Cup tie against Manchester United Allardyce is targeting a run of form to keep his side well clear of the relegation zone.

"I'm happy with the fact that we've recovered well from a disappointing Christmas based on results and loss of lots of players who were injured, which has made life difficult for us," he said.

"I think that we've performed exceptionally well in the last two games against Norwich and Manchester United so I hope we bounce back and produce that performance on a consistent basis again now in the new year."

West Ham had started the season well after gaining promotion through the npower Championship play-offs last year.

A good points haul in the early months of the season means that, despite the slump in December, the Hammers are still four points ahead of Sunderland, ahead of their trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Black Cats' boss Martin O'Neill has struggled to get the best from his side so far this season, although recent wins over Reading, Southampton and reigning champions Manchester City have eased the pressure on the former Celtic manager.

Allardyce believes the performances have been there from Sunderland but they have not scored enough goals, with only QPR and Aston Villa scoring less than Sunderland's 21 to date.

"It's not been about the performance, but the results haven't come because they have not converted enough of the chances that they've created," Allardyce said of Sunderland's season.

"I don't think they've had too many goalscorers apart from the magnificent start (Steven) Fletcher made.

"I think they should have paid a price for that in result terms but performances, particularly at Sunderland, have always been very, very good - according to our reports.

"It will be a tough game as always away from home. We want to be playing as well as we did against Manchester United to achieve a result at Sunderland. Anything less than that will make life difficult for us."

Scotland international Fletcher was signed from relegated Wolves over the summer and the 25-year-old has scored eight goals so far for Sunderland, including five in his first five games.

O'Neill's side would have been languishing further down the table without Fletcher's contribution, which cannot be overstated according to Allardyce, who admitted "He's been tremendous" adding: "You would see where Sunderland would be if he hadn't scored the goals he has scored.

"I think that his goals are like gold in terms of the results that they've given Sunderland this season. Without them they would have struggled a bit more than they already have."

West Ham completed a loan deal for Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh earlier in the week and Allardyce is ready to utilise the Morocco international, starting tomorrow.

The manager added: "I haven't picked the side yet. Yes, he is available for selection - we've got lots of games coming up.

"He won't be able to be involved in the replay against Manchester United because he wasn't registered in time for the first game.

"We've the same squad as last week with Chamakh joining us from Arsenal - from our point of view he will hopefully play a big part in some good results for us between now and the end of the season."