Ahead of Sunday’s big Emirates FA Cup tie against Manchester United, Slaven Bilic held his weekly pre-match press conference.
During the briefing, the manager answered questions on the latest team-news and gave his thoughts on his side's chances of reaching the semi-final stage of the competition.
What updates can you give us on the team news ahead of Sunday’s game?
Victor Moses, Enner Valencia and Joey O’Brien are all back, Winston is training with us today after a week training individually with the physios. Then, we have James Tomkins who has also been back with us and James Collins as well, but they will both be out for the game against Manchester United. Of course, Darren Randolph will play as he has done in the previous rounds and he has always performed when he has come in for both club and country.
What do you expect ahead of the game against United at Old Trafford?
We all know that their game against Liverpool last night was not a normal game. It was at Anfield in an intimidating atmosphere and it is just a one-off game. On Sunday, they will be playing in front of their own fans and so unfortunately for us, we expect a better performance than last night. It is Manchester United and although they are under pressure they are capable of playing better and they have always bounced back after a tough loss, so it will be a tough game.
How do you feel about the possibility of playing in front of a capacity crowd next season at the new stadium?
It only goes to show that we have a massive fan base. For lots of people, including me, I saw it as a big step to go from a 36,000 to a 54,000 capacity. But now it seems that this isn’t enough, and we may need 60,000. It shows that the board made a very brave decision to move from Upton Park and that we are moving in the right direction.
How confident are you ahead of the game that you can get a result on Sunday?
We are confident, of course. Not because Manchester United didn’t play well in the game against Liverpool, but because we are playing well. We are in good form, we have more options to pick from now that players are back from injury and that is the reason we are confident going into this game. We know the game will be tough, against one of the biggest clubs in the country in front of 75,000, but we take 9,000 fans who will be in fine voice and will create a great atmosphere to play in.
A victory on Sunday would allow you to lead your side out at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final, does that excite the squad?
It is incredibly exciting, but as we have done in each round, we need to concentrate on the match ahead of us. We did that against Wolves, Liverpool and Blackburn and that has served us well, so we will prepare as we always do.
Michail Antonio is a player that is thriving in the Premier League following a move from the Championship. Is it reassuring that there is talent outside of the Premier League capable of making the step up?
There are definitely some players that can make the step up, not only Michail, but also Sam Byram who came in January. Sam played only five days after joining against Manchester City and he did extremely well in that game. Michail is the perfect example for all the players playing in lower divisions. The important thing is to surround them with quality players like we have with Antonio. He is benefitting from that and so are we.