West Ham boss will play strongest possible team for Chelsea EFL Cup showdown
PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 October 2016
Hammers manager Slaven Bilic is expecting a big London derby against the Blues
After three games unbeaten and two clean sheets along the way, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is keen to continue that excellent run and dump Chelsea out of the EFL Cup at London Stadium tonight (Wednesday).
And that means that he will field a strong team tonight as they look to upset the Blues brilliant form which culminated in a 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United on Sunday.
“It is a very important game,” said Bilic. “We will put out our strongest possible team. It is a London derby and also a one-off. It is a very interesting competition for us. We are in the last 16 and if we get through it is already the quarter-finals.
“Maybe it is too early to talk about it, but when you look at it, some of the ties will see some big teams going out.”
West Ham are likely to stick with the bulk of the team that grabbed that last-minute winner over Sunderland on Saturday.
Aaron Cresswell will return as the left wing-back though, while keeper Darren Randolph will play if fit.
“He has been missing since the international break as he felt his old injury, but he came back to full training on Saturday,” revealed Bilic.
“He is a brilliant goalkeeper, so if he is fit, he will be playing, but he is a risk, so we will have to see.”
One man whose only game this season was against Chelsea on the opening day is Andre Ayew and he too could play a part tonight.
“He looks good in training,” said the boss, “He has been back with us for a week now, but we don’t want to rush him like crazy, although we have missed his quality.
“He is in contention for the match, but he is not totally fit though he looks good.”
Tonight’s game is the biggest for West Ham at the London Stadium so far, both on and off the field.
Bilic will be preparing his men for the big match, while the club, the police and the stewards are all preparing for any problems on the way and inside the ground. This will be a big test.
“I haven’t thought about it, but you could say it is the biggest game so far,” said the understated boss.
“It is a cup game and a London derby against Chelsea, so of course, it is a big occasion.
“The fans have to really get behind us. We are feeling them in every game already, they have been a really big help for us and we want them to be our 12th player tonight which I am sure they are going to. Hopefully the problems at the stadium are in the past because I am getting fed up with answering questions about it.”
Both sides go into the game with a new three centre-back formation and they are both in decent form.
“We have got seven points from three games and a couple of clean sheets and the confidence is back now,” said Bilic. “But we have to build on that and approach every game totally focused.
“They are a strong team who are one of the candidates to win the league and they also have a strong squad.”
It seems both sides are likely to play close to their best team for the showdown and despite a controversial defeat on the opening day, Bilic is still confident.
“Last year we did well against Chelsea. This is a new season and they are Chelsea of course, but we have had a couple of wins and are very positive and we will do our best to go through,” he concluded.
It is going the be a big night and hopefully a trouble-free one.
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