The Carabao Cup Player of the Round award for Round Four has been given to West Ham United goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
The Paris Saint-Germain loanee produced several important saves to keep holders Manchester City at bay for 90 minutes as the score remained goalless, while Phil Foden’s penalty miss in the shootout gifted the Hammers a place in the last eight of the competition.
A haul of 66.8% of the votes saw the Frenchman comfortably beat Ivan Toney, Neco Williams and Kepa Arrizabalaga to scoop the accolade.
“It’s amazing for me,” says Areola. “It’s not just player of one match, it’s all the matches in the round, which is fantastic. I’m really happy to receive this award.
“Every save is important, and it was good to stop City scoring at crucial times in the game. We work together as a team to try to stop the opposition from scoring and we managed to keep that clean sheet.
“It was an amazing feeling in the end to win the penalty shootout. The atmosphere in the stadium was unbelievable. It is very nice for me to receive this trophy, but the award is for the whole team really.”
Inspired by the support of a sell-out crowd of 60,000 at the London Stadium, West Ham dumped Pep Guardiola’s side out of the Carabao Cup for the first time in 1,827 days, ending their incredible reign, having triumphed in the last four Wembley finals.
Areola continues: “We really felt that atmosphere, playing against Manchester City, one of the best teams in Europe, which we knew would be tough. The fans did a great job in helping us and we gave them the result that they wanted.
“We also had lots of our younger fans and children at the match, which was very special. For some, it might have been their first-ever game, so it was good to be able to create that memory for them. They are the future of the Club’s fans and it is so good to have them cheering for us.
“We knew it was a big victory against a big team in this competition. We have a very good group, and I think if we keep pushing each other and working this way, at the training ground and playing 100% in every game, then I think we can go far in all of the competitions we are in.”
Areola’s man-of-the-match display was his fourth clean sheet in four appearances since joining the Club in the summer, with the 28-year-old also shutting out Manchester United in the previous round.
Opportunities in the Cup have allowed the experienced stopper to stake a claim to feature more regularly in between the sticks, and he is targeting silverware as the Hammers prepare to face London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in next month’s Quarter-Final tie.
“I am very happy with how things are going,” he confesses. “The Manager brought me here to challenge with the other goalkeepers and he has given me opportunities to play in some big matches.
I am coming here every day with a smile, happy to work with Lukasz (Fabianski), Darren (Randolph), David (Martin) and Xavi (Valero) – we call this the goalkeepers’ union! We are all here to help the team in any way we can; every day we are pushing each other to be ready.
“All the competitions we are in, we want to win. That’s what we are here for and why we are playing football. We want to win titles, and to win the Carabao Cup would be great for me, the Club and our fans. It would mean everything.”