Bilic - We defended really good

Slaven Bilic hailed the ‘team effort’ which earned West Ham United a hard-fought Barclays Premier League point at Swansea City.

The Hammers defended superbly at the Liberty Stadium, where they secured a record-setting third straight goalless draw.

With six senior players, including five attackers, absent, West Ham could even have won the game in South Wales, but manager Bilic was content with a point from a competitive clash with the Swans.

“I want to praise the team and I want to praise the players, especially as it was a team effort,” he told West Ham TV. “If you remember what I said three or four weeks ago when the injuries hit us, I said the only way we could compensate was by producing a team performance and that is exactly what we have done in the last three games.

“We defended really good as a team, apart from in the first 20 minutes when we were a little bit sloppy. After that, we were really good and I’m proud of the team.

“To be fair, with no disrespect to any player it is all about the squad and that’s why we got a point, but the question is can we play much better with Carroll, without Payet, without Lanzini, without Sakho and without Moses? It’s too much.

“The guys played really well and put in great effort to gain a point and that’s why I am really pleased with the performance from the team.”

While it was the defensive effort that caught the eye, West Ham could well have won the game with the chances they did create.

Mauro Zarate twice tested Lukasz Fabianski before half-time, before substitute Enner Valencia fired in a rasping, rising shot that the Poland goalkeeper tipped over acrobatically late on.

“OK, we played without these players and we did so against Man United and against Stoke and in every one of those games we should have scored goals,” Bilic continued. “With two or three of those players back, not even all of them, I have a feeling that we would have definitely scored one or two goals per game.

“It’s great for us to continue our unbeaten run. Second, it’s our third straight clean sheet and third, we are expecting some of those players to come back very, very soon.”

With this arguably being the most unpredictable season in Barclays Premier League history, there appear to be no ‘gimmes’ anywhere.

While Swansea went into Sunday’s clash in the relegation zone, they also went into it with a fully-fit squad bar winger Wayne Routledge, and on the back of a fantastic performance at Manchester City last time out.

“Swansea are a good team and that’s how I presented them to the guys on Saturday night. We spoke about them and they are a good side who have not been lucky enough to score goals.

“They have their qualities and they did not forget to play football. If you see them attack, of course they have a lot of quality. We defended with the whole team and, as I said, they deserve praise and this is a really good point.

“It’s a great platform for when the injured players start to come back.”

West Ham will now prepare for the Boxing Day trip to bottom club Aston Villa, with Bilic and his players scheduled to train on Christmas Day.

The manager had a festive message for the Claret and Blue Army ahead of the visit to Villa Park and home fixtures with Southampton and Liverpool either side of the New Year.

“Merry Christmas to all the Hammers! We are going to try to do everything to make you even happier and proud of us than you are,” he smiled.

“We need you all, especially when we are short of options. We feel you all behind us, as you always are and we’re going to do our best to make this Christmas period a happy on for you!”