- Slaven BIlic wants his West Ham United team to develop a 'clean sheet mentality'
- Hammers have kept just three clean sheets in their opening 14 Premier League matches
- Bilic's side tackle free-scoring Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday afternoon
Slaven Bilic says his team need to develop a ‘clean sheet mentality’ if they are to turn their season around.
West Ham United have kept just three clean sheets in their opening 14 Premier League matches, conceding 29 goals in the process.
The Hammers head to free-scoring Liverpool on Sunday and Bilic knows they will need to tighten up if they are to leave Anfield with a point or three.
“We’ve had three clean sheets, against Bournemouth, against Sunderland and at Crystal Palace,” the manager confirmed. “You can’t be guaranteed a clean sheet but you have to have a clean sheet mentality.
“No team can guarantee they aren’t going to concede a goal, no matter who you are playing against, but you have to have a hunger and mentality that I’m calling ‘clean sheet’, no matter what the result it. With that, it can be 2-0 against Arsenal. It doesn’t have to be 5-1.
“It’s my responsibility, because we can’t crumble. For me, ‘clean sheet’ is more about mentality because their guy can score from a free-kick or a great action, so 1-0 can’t be a clean sheet but you know what I’m talking about.”
You can’t be guaranteed a clean sheet but you have to have a clean sheet mentality
Defending is not only down to defenders, of course, and Bilic is hopeful that Andy Carroll will be available to play an important role this weekend – and in next week’s home matches with Burnley and Hull City.
Carroll not only defends from the front, but is also an important figure in his own penalty area when dealing with opposition set pieces.
However, with a busy fixture list to contend with, the manager admitted he has to ‘manage’ the centre forward following his recent return from three-and-a-half months out with a knee injury.
At the other end, the No9 netted on his comeback against Arsenal, and Bilic knows his presence will be vital this coming week.
“It’s a good question and one I’ve thought a lot about in the last few days, because we have to manage him,” he explained. “It doesn’t mean he isn’t going to start against Liverpool, I’m not saying that, but the last game he played before the Arsenal game was in Romania in the first week of the season.
“That’s a long break and we have three games and we need him in all three of them, but we can’t be that greedy. I would call it ‘naïve’ to expect him to last three full 90-minute games in one week, that would be crazy, but he feels good and he is fit.
“We’re going to use him, most definitely, in all three of them, because we need him in all three of them. Is he gonna start on Sunday? I don’t know!”
West Ham kick-off against Liverpool at 4.30pm on Sunday, with the Premier League fixture being screened live on Sky Sports 1 and across the world.