Mark Noble interview: "We've beaten a lot of big teams at home and I'm sure we can do it again" 4 years ago

Mark Noble interview: "We've beaten a lot of big teams at home and I'm sure we can do it again"

Five years on from their last FA Cup quarter-final, West Ham United have a chance to do what they didn't manage that afternoon and give their fans a day out at Wembley.

Mark Noble is one of just two players who remain from the squad which lost to eventual finalists Stoke City that day, but the club captain has seen plenty change around him in the years since defeat at the Britannia began a long winless run which saw the club relegated from the Premier League.

Things are looking much brighter this season, with West Ham currently sitting sixth in the Premier League off the back of a 16-match unbeaten league and cup run at the Boleyn Ground - a fitting send-off for the stadium they will leave at the end of this season.

The final game in E13 will come against Manchester United on May 10, but first up is an even bigger match against the same opponents, with an FA Cup semi-final against Everton the prize for the winners.

Manchester United v West Ham United - The Emirates FA Cup Sixth Round

"That year, I think, was the year we got relegated and it wasn't the best year to have a cup run," says Noble.

"But we're really looking forward to Wednesday night and we want to give the fans a day out at Wembley as well as go there ourselves and get a chance to go to the final."

Speaking to JOE on behalf of Betway, the 28-year-old points to the two trips to Old Trafford as evidence of the club's progress in their first season under manager Slaven Bilic.


A contentious late Anthony Martial equaliser forced Wednesday's replay after Dimitri Payet looked to have given the visitors victory, while the goalless draw in December could easily have gone the way of the London club with a bit more luck.

"It shows you how far we've come that we were sitting there gutted that we hadn't beat Manchester United away," he admits.

"We should have won [the league game]," he adds. "I think we hit the post twice in the first half and had a couple of good chances missed."

"It's Manchester United at the end of the day and it's going to be a tough game - we know that. They've still got some great players but we're desperate to get into that semi final.

"But we've got the players, we've got the squad and we've got the team to be able to go out and beat Manchester United at home, and that's what we're going to do.

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The league draw at Old Trafford was in the middle of what probably constitutes West Ham's most testing time since their early European exit in August.

A humbling 4-1 defeat at Tottenham - which Noble suggests was the only time this season Bilic's team have failed to give their opponents a game - coincided with an injury crisis in attack, with Payet, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Manuel Lanzini all spending time on the sidelines.


But the captain is proud of the way the team responded to the setback at White Hart Lane, going unbeaten throughout December and over the entire Christmas and New Year period, with a dominant 2-0 victory over Liverpool among the more impressive performances.

Putting the response down to the strength of the squad, Noble credits the current push for Champions League football to the way the club dealt with that difficult period.

"You always get reporters saying 'are you going through a blip?', which I completely disagreed with," he says.

"We went unbeaten and kept that team spirit going, and then we got our players back and started winning games again and that's why we are where we are."

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West Ham's home form has been so impressive and so sustained that the early-season defeats at Upton Park seem a lifetime away.

The 4-3 loss to Bournemouth has already been avenged with a Payet-inspired 3-1 victory on the South Coast - part of that eight-match unbeaten run at the turn of the year, and after the visit of Manchester United there will be an opportunity to do the same to league leaders Leicester City.

The Foxes struck twice early for a 2-1 victory way back in August ("when no one really knew what they were going to do," in the words of Noble), and will welcome West Ham to the East Midlands knowing victory, combined with a Spurs defeat at Stoke the following day, would leave them within one win of the title.


Since losing to Leicester and Bournemouth, though, West Ham have welcomed Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and more to the Boleyn Ground, winning nine times and drawing on seven occasions.

Saturday's draw against Arsenal demonstrated the ability and team spirit flowing through the squad this season. It was the 14th point West Ham had picked up from a losing position this season, compared to nine throughout the whole of last season.

But for many fans, the most memorable game in that run was the extra-time victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round. While some are worried the move to the less compact Olympic Stadium could have an impact on the atmosphere at those big evening games, Noble thinks there's no reason to be worried.

"I don't think it will [change the atmosphere], because we're doubling the attendance, nearly," he says.

"We just need to go into next season with confidence, because I've always said this whole season that this season is probably one of the biggest in the club's history.

"We knew we'd be moving into the stadium so we wanted to have a good season, and we've done that. It's worked out fantastically for the club and the chairmen and the staff and everything, but once you have that little taste of success you want more of it and that's what we're going to aim for."

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Noble has already admitted he would prefer to win the FA Cup than finish fourth in the Premier League, but he feels there's no reason the club can't achieve both.

"We're a good team now and people are going to fear coming to Upton Park," he says.

"If we play as well as we can do, we've beaten a lot of big teams at home already this season and I'm sure we can do it again."

With six Premier League games remaining, including two under the floodlights at Upton Park, West Ham have every chance to make a memorable final season at the ground even better than their fans could possibly have imagined.

But for now he's just taking one game at a time.

Mark Noble was speaking on behalf of West Ham United official principal sponsor Betway’s Academy of Football project. Follow the series at #BetwayAcademy and blog.betway.com.