Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill hailed Brad Friedel as one of the all-time great Premier League goalkeepers after the American helped his side defeat West Ham and climb into third place.

Friedel, 37, again proved himself to be one of the signings of the season by keeping out Craig Bellamy, Carlton Cole and Calum Davenport with his best saves at Upton Park.

O'Neill, who bought Friedel for £2million from Blackburn in the summer, said after the 1-0 win: "He was really class. He's come up big for us."

He added: "I was comparing that to Peter Schmeichel being sensational for Manchester United and I played with two unbelievable keepers - Pat Jennings and Peter Shilton.

"Friedel has not played all those games for Blackburn and us not to be considered as good as anyone else. He was outstanding and it would have been something special to have beaten him."

Friedel kept the visitors level with his saves, then James Milner helped produce a winner when his cross 12 minutes from full-time deflected in off Lucas Neill.

O'Neill felt it was what Milner deserved after playing against Bolton and Everton despite being ill.

"You get your rewards somewhere along the way," O'Neill said. "He has a big, big heart, a lot of ability and he will also improve."

O'Neill's side overtook Manchester United in the table but he is still playing down talk about reaching the Champions League.

"We didn't play half as well as we did against Arsenal but I'm delighted that we won," he added. "I believe the top four can go on sustained runs and we still have to learn that art."

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Topics:
#Arsenal
#Carlton Cole
#Football
#Pat Jennings
#Blackburn Rovers
#James Milner
#Bolton Wanderers
#Lucas
#Craig Bellamy
#Premier League
#Manchester United
#Lucas Neill
#Brad Friedel
#Everton
#Peter Schmeichel
#Calum Davenport
#Aston Villa
#Peter Shilton