Slaven Bilic shares his thoughts as West Ham United prepare to host Everton at London Stadium…
Good morning everyone.
Before I talk about today’s game, I want to say a few words about Ugo Ehiogu, who sadly passed away on Friday at the age of just 44.
I didn’t know Ugo personally but I played against him, and he was a proper gentleman and a proper player.
It is a big, big shock and our deepest condolences go out to Ugo’s family, friends and everyone who knew him.
We face Everton at London Stadium today in the Premier League and it is another big game for us.
We hope to get the win this afternoon that would get us to that magic number of 40 points and that should be enough for us to be safe, but we are not thinking only of three more points.
We have five games left to play and 15 points to play for and we want to get as many as we can, because we have shown we have a chance in every game when we are good. We have got four points from the last two games and we want to continue in that way.
I didn’t know Ugo personally but I played against him, and he was a proper gentleman and a proper player
Today, we play Everton and we have to stop Romelu Lukaku, which is a job not only for our defenders, but for the whole team.
We have played well against him before, but he has still managed to score goals. He can do you harm, but we need to stop the service to him, because that will prevent him having the ball in dangerous positions. When he does get the service, we need to double him and stop him getting shots away.
He is definitely one of the best strikers in Europe at the moment. He is consistent, especially for his age, and has been scoring goals regularly and getting better and better. I rate him really, really highly.
He’s been linked with a lot of big, big clubs and Everton have shown how big and ambitious they are by keeping him.
Everton are not one player, though. They are a very confident team, especially at home, and they have removed the vulnerability they had last season and are much more solid, and kept their offensive strength. They have a lot of energy and ability.
Concentrating on our own fortunes, these five games are going to determine where we are going to finish in the Premier League.
We are in a position where we can look above us, but we also need to keep the gap below us and the relegation zone big. We can finish higher in the table and a lot of things can happen in the last five games, as we found when we lost five in a row recently.
The table is very congested, but it is more or less the same in most top leagues in Europe, where the gaps between the mid-table teams are very small.
We are without a number of important players today – Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang, Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio through injury and Sam Byram after his red card at Sunderland – but we hope to have Diafra Sakho and Winston Reid available.
Reidy has been training this week and he looked good, so his return would be a big boost for us. Diafra was injured and missed the Sunderland game but he returned to training on Thursday and we will assess him ahead of today’s game.
Whoever plays, we need to take our chances when we create them and be stronger defensively, because in our recent matches we have taken a lead a few times and not built on it.
We need to use our momentum to kill games off when we get our noses in front and that will be the same if we go ahead today.
Defensively, we know the opposition will take risks and create chances if they are behind, so we also need to be stronger and show more resolve as a team to maintain our advantage.
Come on you Irons!