Saturday 24 March 2018

West Ham win at Manchester City wouldn't be a shock - Slaven Bilic

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has led his side to fifth in the Barclays Premier League table
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has led his side to fifth in the Barclays Premier League table

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic claims it would not be a shock if the Hammers beat Manchester City on Saturday.

Away wins at Liverpool and Arsenal have helped West Ham climb to fifth in the Barclays Premier League table but City will offer an even stiffer test at the Etihad Stadium.

Manuel Pellegrini's side lost to Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday but have made a perfect start in the Premier League, winning five out of five without conceding a goal.

The Hammers have tasted defeat in their last seven consecutive visits to City, but Bilic believes his side are primed for another upset.

"It would be a surprise of course because before Juventus, Man City scored 11 goals and didn't concede, they are cruising," Bilic said.

"They already have a gap (at the top of the table) which is hard to catch after five games.

"So on the one hand, it would be a surprise, but to be fair it would not be a shock considering we have done it two out of two already.

"It's good for us, we know what we have to do to have a chance. They are the favourites but I am expecting us to have a good game and if we have a good game we have a chance."

City made a limp defence of their crown last season, finishing eight points behind champions Chelsea, but after splashing out more than £150million in the summer, they appear rejuvenated this term.

"At the start of pre-season the players and manager probably said, 'come on guys, let's do it, last year was not good'," Bilic said.

"The quality is there, it's extreme. Last year it was there also but they now have a few more players that have individual quality, pace, skill, solidness, whether that's Nicolas Otamendi or Raheem Sterling or Kevin de Bruyne. It's scary quality."

West Ham have unearthed their own star in Dimitri Payet, who has made a superb start to life in England since signing from Marseille in June.

Payet's two goals against Newcastle on Monday took his tally to three in five games this season and Bilic says opponents will struggle to stop the Frenchman.

"He's just a good player," Bilic said.

"I am not comparing him to (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo or (David) Silva but for years managers try to block or stop those big players but they cannot do it.

"That's why they are great players. To add to that Dimitri is playing in a position you have to close down, no matter who plays there.

"He will continue to play like this, especially if the team plays for him and we are helping him."

Andy Carroll could feature after the striker came off the bench against Newcastle, following his seven-month absence with a knee injury.

Midfielder Pedro Obiang is hoping to shake off a knock to his ankle but defender Angelo Ogbonna is expected to be out for two weeks with a hamstring injury.

Press Association

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