Saturday 22 October 2016

Bilic: it's make or break for both clubs

West Ham boss insists victory could spell the end of Arsenal title bid

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is aiming to put a big dent in Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s Premier League title aspirations tomorrow Photo: PA
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is aiming to put a big dent in Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s Premier League title aspirations tomorrow Photo: PA
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger Photo: Reuters

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic admits tomorrow's clash with Arsenal could make or break both teams' season.

The Hammers need a victory to stay in the hunt for a place in the top four as they bid to secure Champions League football for the first time.

Facing them are an Arsenal side who require all three points to cling on to any realistic hopes of staying in the title race, while defeat would bring their own top-four credentials into question.

Bilic's side remain in the FA Cup but his league ambitions, which have grown loftier as the season has progressed, could suffer a fatal blow with defeat by the Gunners.

"It's a big game, a London derby first of all," he said.


"The season is approaching an end and it's very important for them and for us. We are both fighting, either for a place in Europe or, from their point of view, they are trying to be champions.

"They still have a chance on paper, but they admit they need to win all their games.

"There's a lot at stake. We also need points to stay in the race for the top four, five or six."

West Ham are unbeaten in their last 13 matches at Upton Park and are looking to complete the double over Arsenal, having won 2-0 win at the Emirates on the opening day of the season.

They received a major boost ahead of the clash after Cheikhou Kouyate's red card, for his lunging challenge on Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle last weekend, was overturned ensuring the midfielder is available.

"It was a good, proper decision to overrule it," added Bilic. "I said straight after the game it was obviously never a red card.

"It's nice to be unbeaten at home. I didn't know it was 13 games but that just shows we approach every game as a single game.

"We know we have a good home record, that is why we are high in the table.

"Our form and our position in the table makes us quite confident. That first game was ages ago but it's nice to know that we played them this season and beat them 2-0.

"We are at home, we are confident, so it should be a great game."

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has no doubts over Jack Wilshere's professionalism as the midfielder prepares to make his first appearance of the season.


Wenger yesterday played down pictures of the 24-year-old speaking to police in the early hours of last Sunday morning during a night out in central London.

And Wilshere is slated to step up his comeback from his leg injury in tonight's under-21 fixture with Newcastle after working well in training.

"I've spoken to him. It looks to be taken out of proportion a little bit," said Wenger.

"Overall, what is positive is that he works very, very hard. The news looks quite good. I think he will have a good test (for the under-21s).

"The real question is does he have the serious life or not? A player cannot hide when you watch him practice every day. He's serious in his life.

"He had a hard session on Monday and he did very well in the session so if he had been heavy drinking on Sunday I don't think he would have survived."

Wenger referred to well-documented, historical drinking issues at Arsenal involving the likes of Tony Adams and Paul Merson when he revealed Arsenal take urine samples to check players' alcohol level.

The Frenchman said: "We test our players.

"We don't have a drinking problem. The drinking problem was much bigger when I arrived."

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