Slaven Speaks - Chelsea


Ahead of West Ham United’s EFL Cup last-16 tie against Chelsea, boss Slaven Bilic sat down with the press to discuss Wednesday night’s London Derby.
The Hammers manager confirmed he will play a strong side at the London Stadium, and also talked about Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Dimitri Payet’s Ballon d’Or shortlist selection…
Slaven, will this game against Chelsea in the EFL Cup be one of the most special matches at the new Stadium so far?
SB: “I think so. I haven’t thought of it quite like that, but it’s a cup game, a London derby, so it’s a big game and a big occasion.
“Supporters have to be just behind us and we are feeling them in every game we play. We want them to be like that tomorrow and be our 12th player, as they say, and I am sure they are going to be.
“I don’t want to answer so many questions about the Stadium week-in, week-out – I can only repeat my answers, that we want to try and play good football and win games. The atmosphere on Saturday helped, to be that good. That’s all we can do.”
Do you think you have now turned a corner?
SB: “Yeah, we have seven points from three games, and we have a couple of wins and a couple of clean sheets. Of course the confidence is back now and we have to continue like this and approach every game like it’s our last game; totally focused.
“If we do that, we should be alright.”
What do you think of Chelsea and their new system under Antonio Conte?
SB: “After the defeat against Arsenal, they changed the system and now they have three wins and three good performances and three clean sheets. They are definitely very positive now.
“They are playing good football. It was a great game against Manchester United from their aspect. They are one of the candidates to win the league. Their squad is big enough and they have quality in every part of the pitch.
“They have hit form now. They are playing good, they are fit, they have a system now and it’s working well for them.”
Is it important for managers to be able to show the emotion of the touchline?
SB: “You have different people. When you are winning, your methods are good, on the touchline and in training. Some managers sit and watch the game and some are almost like they’re playing.
“You have to be yourself. During the [Chelsea v Manchester United] game, I saw nothing wrong from Conte or nothing he did that he hasn’t before at Juventus. He is very aggressive in a good way, coaching from the touchline.”
What’s your reaction to Dimitri Payet being shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or?
SB: “I would be surprised if he wasn’t shortlisted. He deserves it. He did great last season and on top of that, he had a great Euro with his country. He is very deservedly on that with some top players.
“I didn’t see [Payet juggling chewing gum]. Of course, he is that good!”
Can we expect changes against Chelsea or will you keep the team similar?
SB: “I said after the Sunderland game that the approach would be to play our strongest possible team. We played on Saturday and the game is Wednesday and then we play Everton on Sunday.
“We are going to see today. Yesterday’s training was a mix between regeneration for the players who played and bit more for those who didn’t.
“Now we have a full squad, we will decide and we are going to put a strong team out; as strong as possible.”
This is always a well-fought fixture between the two sides isn’t it?
SB: “It’s a one-off London derby in the cup, and it’s a very interesting competition for us. Five or six years ago, teams were not so keen on this cup, but look at the last few seasons, and everyone is trying.
“Most make two or three changes, because they have big, strong squads. Chelsea don’t have a weak team anyway.
“But last year we did well against Chelsea, beating them at home and drawing away, and this is a new season. But we have got our confidence back and have a couple of wins and we’re very positive and we’ll try to knock them out.”
You said you will play a strong team, so where does the EFL Cup feature in this season’s plans?
SB: “We are now in the last-16 and if we go through, it’s already the quarter-finals. You have some fixtures that some of the big teams will go out in. Man United are playing Man City, Spurs are playing Liverpool, so if you go through and have a good draw, you could have a game which you can go through, if you play good.
“Then you are there. It’s not ideal to play midweek, and Everton might be more fresh on Sunday, but at this stage of the season, it’s not a problem to play Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday.
“That’s why we are going to put a very strong team out tomorrow.”
Finally, how serious was West Ham’s interest in Michy Batshuayi?
SB: “It’s all stories. He was on a list of many, many clubs because of his achievements with Olympique Marseille. He’s a really good young striker.
“He was the subject of basically all the clubs that could afford him. He opted for Chelsea and that’s it.
“Ask him [about being frustrated on the bench]! It’s not frustrating for me!”