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Slaven Bilić’s changes paid off for West Ham United against Tottenham

Slaven Bilić needed a good result in this match

Peterborough United v West Ham United - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Nobody will have been surprised by Slaven Bilić making wholesale changes to West Ham United’s line-up for the League Cup tie against Tottenham at Wembley. The only surprise in fact might have been the extent of those changes.

We wondered if Slav would decide to base his team selection around those who took the field against Brighton; or to bring in as many fresh faces as possible.

Following the previous result and the subsequent fall-out after losing 3 - 0 at home to Brighton last Friday, Slav could have been forgiven for looking at the Spurs match as a priority.

But in the aftermath of the Hammers 3 - 2 victory over Tottenham, it’s clear that the Spurs game and the visit to Crystal Palace at the weekend are of equal importance.

Slaven Bilić will be looking at both matches from different aspects and will now be weighing up the pros and cons of his team selection for the Palace game.

Does he stick with the players who did so well against Tottenham; or make wholesale changes once again?

West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Slaven might be under pressure at the moment but he’s not under any pressure to make that decision until much nearer the time.

Whatever may be said in the media or in private, in his present situation Slaven simply cannot afford to start thinking that either the forthcoming fixture on Saturday or the one after that will be his last in charge.

He needs to approach all games with the longer-term in mind; and if that means not bringing people back from injury until they are fully ready then that’s what he needs to do.

It would be the easiest thing in the world to put everything into these next few fixtures, pull off a couple of results, yet find that he’s then going to be missing some important players for the next few weeks.

The months of November and December generally see an increase in injuries at club level due to the players’ baseline levels of fitness being tested to the full. When added to changes in ground and weather conditions, this can compound any previous niggles that the players have sustained in the season so far.

Additionally, for those sides involved in European competition, the extra matches place a further strain on resources.

Clearly this is not the time of year to take any chances.

West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Michail Antonio was one of several players who missed the midweek victory over Tottenham at Wembley.

How serious Michail’s rib injury actually is will dictate the extent of his involvement in the Palace fixture, but we will likely have to wait until nearer the time for an update.

With James Collins and Diafra Sakho still recovering from an ankle ligament sprain and a flare up of lower back pain respectively, the Wembley squad had a different look as Slaven adapted the team to suit the occasion.

Andy Carroll's inclusion gave the side some physical options once again, and although this won't have pleased everyone at least the team had a strong presence up front.

At the other end of the field Adrián returned in goal for the Spurs match. The former Real Betis keeper is reported to be happy in East London even though he recently declared that he needs to get away from West Ham United.

But the big Sevilliano has emphasised that the reason behind any potential move lies purely and simply with his current lack of regular first team football in mind.

Since Adrián still has ambitions to play for his country it makes perfect sense to acknowledge that he's unlikely to do so while he's not getting a regular place in the Hammers side.

Slaven may now decide to mix and match the team in view of the Wembley result so perhaps this was just the break Adrián needed in order to show his worth. The next few games should provide an indication.

Vamos !!