West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic admitted that his side are now mired in a relegation fight, following their fifth consecutive defeat Wednesday evening.
The Hammers suffered a 3-0 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, and remain just five points ahead of 18th place side Swansea City, who they play next in a massive contest on Saturday.
“After four defeats, now is the time we have to show leadership,” Bilic said in his post match press conference. “I told the guys to forget about this game. Forget about last Saturday. There is only one game for us, and that is game against Swansea on Saturday.”
“I didn’t lose my belief in them, they are good players. But we need that win. We are playing home against a team that, we can say they’re playing good, but they are five points behind us. There is a reason for that also. Best way for us to get the confidence back is with a win. And make no mistake, I am not expecting the beautiful game on Saturday. But we have to win it, and we have to show everything.”
Bilic continued to stress how essential three points is at the London Stadium this coming weekend, as the Hammers are now also on a seven-match winless run.
“Very very vital, it is the vital game,” he said. “It’s true. If we are looking at the whole picture, it is. Because we have to start winning games. We know who we are playing against the rest of the season. This is a very strange league. You can win against you don’t expect. We can’t count on that. We have to start picking up points.”
“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. We have to bring that gap where it was five games ago, make it like this or keep it like this, minimum.”
Bilic indicated that Michail Antonio was taken off, not because of a recurring hamstring injury but due to the versatile winger not fully recovering from stomach illness earlier in the day. The Croatian manager also subbed out Andy Carroll, as the England international complained about another problem with his groin. However, Bilic indicated that the medical staff told him Carroll was fine and should be available against Swansea.
The Hammers boss gave credit to Arsene Wenger’s side for being the better team Wednesday night, in a match where both teams were in need of a positive result.
“We started the game really well,” he said. “We were active on the ball and breaking their rhythm. We had a few opportunities through the set pieces, through corners and a few fouls and through counter-attacks, and we were good. And then in the last ten minutes of the first half, we started to lose the ball too early, which gave them a lot of ball possession. They didn’t create a lot in the first half to be fair.”
“And then the second half started as the first finished. They didn’t create great chances, to be fair. And they they scored that goal. They started to play with much more freedom. They deserved to win the game.”