Slaven Speaks - Arsenal


Hammers boss Slaven Bilic sits down with the press ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Premier League fixture at London Stadium against Arsenal…


Slaven, I assume as we're here today, you’re training at the London Stadium?

Yes, that’s what we usually do [before a home game]. We are training at four o’clock and then go to the hotel and come back tomorrow and go to the match. It’s good to train here, to be in the dressing rooms, on the pitch, in the Stadium. It’s improving of course, and our performances are too. The start was difficult but now we have had good performances and it is like it should be.


What is the injury situation with Antonio and Cresswell?

We paid the price for playing a strong team in the Cup game. The good thing is it is not really bad. I just spoke to the medical team and they’re out for this game but the team is very optimistic they should be ready for the game against Liverpool.


Diafra Sakho will be out for six weeks – is he someone you need to replace in January?

To be fair, we are thinking about the transfer window a bit but we are totally focused on a very busy period we have in front of us starting with tomorrow’s game. It’s a big blow for us and we know what he can give us and what he did in those couple of games. But he will be back.


Andy Carroll – will he start against Arsenal?

He will be in the squad. He is ready. His injury happened at the beginning of the season so it’s like three months. He’s ready, although he’s definitely not ready to play 90 minutes. He’s ready to make an impact. He’s a player that, like Sakho, he offers us something special. He is one of the main reasons we were so prolific last season and versatile and dangerous. He had a spell last season where he had injuries but he also had a spell of playing 90 minutes, as well as a spell making an impact from the bench.

Against Arsenal, we were 2-0 down and it was basically him that brought us back in the game and he scored a hat-trick and had one of the best 45 minutes from last season. If you ask what he’s capable of, that’s one of the best examples.


Is he the player you’ve missed most this season?

It isn’t only him. We have missed a few of them, like Diafra Sakho as we’ve spoken about.


Was a bit of your hard work undone in the week?

It was a bit. We were very disappointed after the game but we knew it would be very hard at that ground and that opponent to do it twice in three or four days. No defeat is good. It brought our mood down a bit but we have a massive game tomorrow and we are thinking about two of our last Premier League games – Spurs and Man United away – so we know what we have to do tomorrow to get a positive result.


How serious of a position are you in?

It depends how you look at it. We’re in a position we don’t want to be in. OK, it’s not after 26 games but it’s not after two or three. It’s a considerable amount, so it makes us think about it. On the other hand, with three points that are there week in, week out, we can climb up the table a lot. It’s that kind of a league – even a point can help. It’s very, very tight from mid-table to the position that we are. There’s no time to panic. But we can’t be relaxed and say it’s going to come, because it won’t just come like that.


How do you raise the players’ confidence back to the level of the 1-1 draw against Man United?

Of course when you draw at Manchester United, it gives you something extra. After that game, we were very confident and wanted to build on that. Now tomorrow we have a massive task again at home. People are talking about four tough Premier League games in a row for us and we are at the halfway line and have a massive game against a team who is a title contender. But we have a chance, like we showed against Spurs.