Nikola Vlašić: We feel like we are back on track
Nikola Vlašić says last Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup third round win over Leeds United will help West Ham United when the two clubs clash in the Premier League this weekend.
The Hammers negotiated Marcelo Bielsa’s unique playing style, which sees his players mark man-to-man and press all over the pitch, with Vlašić heavily involved in Manuel Lanzini’s opening goal in the hosts’ 2-0 victory at London Stadium.
That success followed Premier League wins over Watford and Crystal Palace and preceded a midweek victory over Norwich City, and the Croatia midfielder, who has stepped into the starting XI in recent weeks to good effect, believes David Moyes’ squad is in positive mood ahead of their second meeting with Leeds in the space of eight days.
“We feel like we are back on track,” he confirmed. “We had a few problems with results, but we are now back to where we were at the start of the season, so everybody in the team is really confident now and feeling good.”
We analysed last Sunday's game and saw what we did good and what we can improve
West Ham have now beaten Leeds four times in four meetings since Bielsa led the Yorkshire club back to the Premier League in 2020.
Despite failing to take a point from the Irons last season, the newly-promoted Whites finished ninth in the table with 59 points – just six fewer than West Ham in sixth – but they have struggled to reach the same level of performance during an injury-hit 2021/22 campaign.
Leeds go into the weekend 16th with 19 points from as many games played, but Vlašić says that doesn’t mean the Hammers should expect to ease to a fifth straight win over their opponents.
“I’m a little bit surprised [Leeds have struggled this season], but they are still a good team,” he observed. “We played them in the FA Cup and it was a hard game because they play a unique style of football, man on man all over the pitch, so it’s really hard to play against them, but it’s also really hard for them to play every game like that so we’ll see what happens at the weekend.
“Of course, last weekend’s game against them helps us. We analysed that game and saw what we did good and what we can improve.”