James Tomkins is ready to return to league action on Tuesday evening against former club, West Ham United, as the side look to getting back to winning ways in the battle for points in their latest London derby.
Both recent league defeats have come at the hands of The Gunners but the afternoon in North London was out of the ordinary for the Eagles in recent weeks and with two games in six days against teams around themselves in the table, Tomkins is hoping that this weekend's break in games has come at the right time ahead of an important week.
“It was obviously disappointing to lose in the way we did at Arsenal and conceding four goals so early made it so difficult for us to get back into the game but it’s now important not to let that result affect us. Due to us having no game at the weekend our injured players have had some more time to get fit as we have had a tough time recently with the number we have had out but results have been going well of late, apart from last week, so we need to bounce straight back on Tuesday."
A constant theme from the playing staff in recent weeks has been how Roy Hodgson has used all his experience to ensure that the players are of a different mind-set than they were early season and the work on the training pitch is reflected in their top flight results.
"A lot of credit must go to the manager as we had gone seven games without a win so to be where we are now takes some doing and the players have done well to take the manager’s instructions into games and get us on a good run of results.
"We have worked a lot in training on team shape and obviously the manager’s attention to detail with us has been brilliant and we have taken a lot on board. This has made us more organised and we have become more of a difficult team to beat. He works with all elements of the team, the back four on getting behind the ball and also look at defending from the front. We are a side who always has goals in us so the important thing was to make sure we stopped conceding at the other end of the pitch. It’s a long way until the end of the season and we are certainly not out of trouble so we need to push on from where we are at the moment," reflected Tomkins as he put forward his thoughts on the reason behind the team climbing the table.
That form has seen the team move to 13th but the points race is so tight that despite only suffering the two defeats Tomkins is quick to point out that Swansea’s victory on Monday night shows no one can rest on their laurels as the battle for points hots up.
“It is similar to last season in as much as that when you string a couple of wins together it pushes you right up the table, that’s massive in this league and even in our position we know that with a couple of bad results you can be dragged straight back into it again and it is so tight down there as results show. You look at Monday night and see how Swansea City beat Liverpool, a result people were not expecting and shows how competitive this Premier League is.”
The 28 year old was a part of the Upton Park academy between 2003 and 2006, but he would have to wait another two years to be handed his senior debut when he started a Premier League game against Everton.
Tomkins would go on to play 243 times for the Hammers across nine seasons, before swapping East London for SE25 in July 2016 but he says that his return against them last season didn’t feel quite the same as playing against a former club because of the change in venue for the home side.
“Upton Park was like a second home for me as I had been there since I was eight years old and I loved it there as I was a local lad and had been brought up in the area. I do recall though that when we played them last season it was strange because we were playing at the London Stadium rather than at Upton Park, it was a new experience for me rather than going back the old home but of course I still knew a lot of the lads we were playing against. We are all competitive though and this one will be no different to any other match where both teams will be going all out for the points that each club needs.”
A win against West Ham will move The Eagles above them in the table with David Moyes side currently sitting a couple of places above them and Tomkins admits that these are the type of games which need to see Palace coming out of with maximum points.
The Basildon born defender returns to East London hoping that he can carry on his current form which has seen him take Man Of The Match honours on three occasions and help lead the side to safety come the end of a tough 38 game campaign.
“The games against the teams around you are the big ones and the matches you need to win and they become six pointers in a way. West Ham will be looking to get points just as much as we are and it will be a competitive game for sure and we will be looking to get a good result there.
“From a personal point of view I am pleased with how my game is coming along and for me staying away from injuries is massive, and just want to do my best for the team so we can get away from the relegation zone. It’s all about consistency and keeping up the level of performances as we try to pick up as many points as possible. We know we have a massive chance but we can’t get carried away at being 13th because one or two losses and you can be right down there so need to keep going and make sure that we stay out of trouble.”
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