Sunday 30 Apr
Updated Sunday 30 Apr 22:30
Opinion

Manager on Monday

Slaven Bilic

 

  • Slaven Bilic hoping West Ham United can emulate last season's home win over Tottenham Hotspur
  • Hammers defeated title-chasing Spurs in the final derby between the two at the Boleyn Ground
  • Manager believes Andy Carroll could return after two-match absence on Friday evening

Slaven Bilic is hoping to ‘enjoy’ Friday’s Premier League visit of title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur to London Stadium.

The Croatian’s West Ham United side go into the derby under the lights on a four-game unbeaten run, and having kept clean sheets in three of those matches.

The Hammers are still not mathematically safe from relegation, but victory over their near-neighbours would secure their top-flight status.

“That game is always big, it’s a derby, and it can’t be just an ordinary game,” Bilic observed. “Then, if you add to that that it’s Friday night and they need points to stay in the race for the Premier League, and we need points to climb or to make us safe, it makes it even bigger.

“We’re going to approach it in a very positive way, four games unbeaten, with three clean sheets in the last four games and knowing we are playing, for me, against the best team in the league.

“Hopefully I’m going to enjoy it, but it’s going to be a very nervous game. We will have to be on top of our game, defending even better than we did at Stoke, and taking our chances and scoring the goals. But we did it last year, beating them at home, when they were also on fire and everything.”

We’re going to approach it in a very positive way, four games unbeaten, with three clean sheets in the last four games

Slaven Bilic

Slaven Bilic
Slaven Bilic got one over Mauricio Pochettino on home turf last season

West Ham’s chances of beating Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be boosted by the potential return of Andy Carroll to the squad a two-game absence with a groin problem.

The east Londoners have failed to score in those two games, drawing 0-0 with Everton and Stoke City, and Bilic knows the No9’s presence adds a new dimension to his team.

“I will be very disappointed if he is not involved in our next game,” he stated. “It looked like he would be 50-50 for the Everton game, but it wasn’t, so hopefully he’s going to make it to be involved against Tottenham.

“He won’t be available for 90 minutes, but you don’t need to play the whole game to be effective, like Stoke put Peter Crouch on for 20 minutes on Saturday. You want to have him at least on the bench, because it gives a lift to the team as we are lacking goals.

“Everything else I am happy with. We are defending good, we have a good shape and everything, never losing composure, good on the ball, but there we are.

“I know that Andy is not injured because he is not professional. That script is not the case. I know that Andy is very settled down, very up for training and looking after his body and it looked, at one stage of the season, that he would be OK and all that.

“It’s not coincidence that during that period we won six out of nine, then suddenly we are without him.”