Bilic: West Ham are in relegation fight now
PUBLISHED: 14:00 06 April 2017
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We have to be realistic says boss after fifth straight loss
After five successive losses in the Premier League and with only a five-point cushion above the relegation zone, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is under no illusions.
Arsenal’s 3-0 win over the Hammers at the Emirates has left Bilic and his players looking ever nervously over their shoulders, with only seven games remaining this season.
Just a few weeks ago, following success at Southampton, they were in the top 10 and looking upwards, but draws against West Brom and Watford have been followed by defeats against leaders Chelsea, Bournemouth, Leicester, Hull City at the weekend, and then the Gunners in midweek.
And Bilic said: “We are in that fight now. We have to be realistic, it’s not being negative it’s being realistic.
“We are in that fight and we have to bring the gap what it was five games ago. Make it like this, or keep it like this, minimum.
“As soon as we can, to go to 40. That’s the magic number, it was always like.”
Manuel Lanzini’s goal looked set to pull West Ham to within two points of eighth-placed West Brom at the London Stadium, but Gareth McAuley’s injury-time equaliser can now be seen as kickstarting a worrying slump.
They were behind in three minutes at Watford, yet rescued a draw thanks to Andre Ayew and held on after Michail Antonio was sent off.
But that remains their last point, as Chelsea proved too strong in a 2-1 win, while Josh King hit a hat-trick for a Bournemouth side who had not won in 2017 until that point and also missed two penalties in a 3-2 triumph on the south coast.
Defending champions Leicester had failed to win away from the King Power Stadium all season until they came to Stratford and scored twice inside seven minutes on their way to a 3-2 victory.
Hull came from behind to claim an 85th-minute winner, after Andy Carroll’s opener at the weekend, and underfire Arsenal found their shooting boots in the second half on Wednesday.
Bilic admitted his players were lacking some confidence, adding: “After five defeats, of course you can’t talk about great confidence. You need one great win or three points to get it back.
“Now is the time where we have to show the leadership, starting from me. It’s easy when you’re winning, but I told the guys forget about this game. “We are very disappointed, but forget about this game. It’s only one game for us. That’s the game against Swansea on Saturday.
“I didn’t lose my belief in them. They’re good players, but we need that win. We are playing at home against a team, who we can say are playing good but they are five points behind us. There’s a reason for that also.
“We have to give everything and be concentrated to get the confidence back and the best way is with a win. Make no mistake, I’m not expecting a beautiful game on Saturday, but we have to win it.”
West Ham were 4-1 winners over Swansea when the sides met in Wales on Boxing Day and welcome a team who will no doubt be smarting from a 3-1 home defeat against Tottenham.
Paul Clement’s men were leading with only two minutes left, before Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen turned the match on its head.
And Bilic knows how it feels to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory against Spurs, adding: “It shows they played a good game. It wasn’t 3-0. This is a confidence-killer. It’s like when we lost against Spurs, when we were winning 2-1 and then 3-2.
“Especially in that situation, it harms you and it’s a killer, but make no mistake, although it was a killer, it was a good game that we played.
“They probably played good because to keep winning against Spurs until 88th minute either you have to be very lucky or play very good, probably both. It’s a killer, but it’s also a big warning for us.”