- Slaven Bilic hails 'eleven lions' after injury-depleted West Ham United hold in-form Everton
- Hammers were without nine senior players through injuries and suspensions
- Hosts restricted the Blues to zero shots on target at London Stadium
Slaven Bilic has hailed his ‘eleven lions’ after injury-depleted West Ham United edged a goalless Premier League draw with Everton.
Despite being without nine senior players through injury and suspension, the Hammers were the better team for long stretches against Ronald Koeman’s in-form Blues.
While they looked defensively sound and kept Romelu Lukaku uncharacteristically quiet, the home side just could not find the winner their performance warranted at London Stadium.
“I am really pleased with the performance,” the managed confirmed. “We were expecting a difficult game and all that comes with that, but I told the guys after the game that I simply couldn’t have asked for more from them.
“They were there with their solidity, composure, effort, determination and dedication, so top marks for them. I’m pleased with the performance and pleased with the point in one way, but we were looking for all three. If any team deserved three points, it was us.
“We played against Everton, who are confident because of the run they’ve been on and the position they are in in the table and they have everything to play for, so to limit them required great work and great concentration in one-on-one situations.
“If we have to talk about one negative, it was the lack of quality or decision in the final third, and that we didn’t score a goal.”
We have got what we have got and they played like eleven lions there, running for each other
Bilic was without the injured Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang, Angelo Ogbonna, Robert Snodgrass, Sofiane Feghouli and Gokhan Tore, while Mark Noble and Sam Byram were both banned.
Despite those notable absences, the Croatian was able to field a side that drew on experience and guile to restrict Everton to next to nothing in terms of goalscoring opportunities.
James Collins, Havard Nordtveit, Arthur Masuaku and the returning Winston Reid were all immense, while the likes of Edimilson Fernandes, Manuel Lanzini and the tireless Jonathan Calleri also impressed.
“I don’t want to moan before the game about the players who are unavailable, because we have got what we have got and they played like eleven lions there, running for each other,” Bilic continued.
“We are lacking some players who are long-term injured and some players who are short-term injured and are out, but it’s all about the squad and they showed that today.”
West Ham now have 38 points with four games to play and sit seven above Swansea City in the final relegation place. So, does Bilic feel the Hammers are now safe?
“We are always talking about that magic number of 40, so we might need a few points because we don’t want to go into the last game with a radio!” he half-joked.
“Every game is going to be hard, especially now. Every team is going to be nervous because virtually everybody is fighting for something.
“What pleases me is this performance. We have got five points from three games and now we are going to approach the Stoke game, which is another massive one for us and for them, in a positive way and we will make good preparation for them.”