Slaven Bilic is perfectly aware that the odds are stacked against him and his West Ham team when they host Premier League runaway leaders Chelsea in a keenly anticipated top flight encounter tonight.
Antonio’ Conte’s table-toppers are nailed-on to taste glory come the conclusion of the campaign and are favourites to add another three points to their tally at the London Stadium.
The game will be the third time the Hammers have clashed with the Blues and at present they have both won one game each; the Stamford Bridge outfit winning the Premier League game they hosted, while West Ham managed to grab a victory over their London rivals in the EFL Cup clash at home in October.
The visit of Chelsea presents a daunting prospect for the Hammers; but nonetheless, Bilic says he is very much looking forward to the tussle. And speaking to the London Evening Standard ahead off the game, the Hammers manager has given his views on the secret ingredient (hard work) that makes Conte’s team tick.
He said: “They were then a good side (when the two teams met in the EFL Cup) but better now. So what is their secret? Why are they so dominant? The answer first is — there is no secret.
“The main thing is that they are very fit, they work hard, they are very solid and on top of that, they have that quality up front which is basically making the difference in every game.
“If you compare them with the other title contenders, Chelsea are more solid. Most of the games, they are winning not totally the Italian way and at home they play some very offensive football.”
Bilic also points out that the way the Blues push up their wing-backs makes them more like wingers. He argues that it’s a very demanding position and there is no point in playing that system if the players are not capable of possessing that level of fitness.
Bilic adds in his column in the Standard that that what makes Chelsea solid is that they never defend with three player and that it’s always five. The only one who is resting somewhat is Costa and, sometimes, Eden Hazard, he says.
He added: “When Chelsea win possession, though, Alonso and Moses are right up there and to do that regularly, not now and again, you have to train hard and be almost superheroes. Having said all those nice things about Conte and his Chelsea team, I would be so happy it we could ruin their night.”