Bilic not granting any old boy favours

LONDON • Slaven Bilic accepts that West Ham's meeting with his former club Everton today will carry extra significance as he attempts to reignite his side's unexpected top-four challenge.

He spent part of his playing career in England with the Merseysiders but his priority now is to ensure the Hammers respond to last weekend's defeat at Watford that left them in sixth place, a point behind Manchester United in fourth.

"Is it a special game for me?" asked West Ham manager Bilic of the match against Everton at Upton Park. "On one hand, yes; on the other, no. Every game is special for different reasons. Everton are a great side, big club with good players."

The Hammers' 0-2 loss at Vicarage Road came on the back of impressive victories over Crystal Palace and Chelsea. Bilic said he was left perplexed by his side's display against Watford but insisted he knew what needed to be fixed when Everton visit east London.

"We weren't near to our usual levels but overall we look dangerous too, we are scoring quite a lot."

West Ham will again be without striker Diafra Sakho but Bilic has been lifted by the return to fitness of forward Enner Valencia.

Everton head to London lifted by their biggest Premier League win in eight years last weekend.

Roberto Martinez's side ended a run of three league games without a win as they recorded a 6-2 victory over struggling Sunderland.

Martinez, whose side are four points behind West Ham in ninth position in the league, said: "We see the West Ham game as one of the games of the season for many reasons. The best is to highlight that probably Leicester and West Ham have been the best teams in this opening campaign."

Everton could have midfielder Tom Cleverley back following an ankle injury. But Bryan Oviedo (hamstring) and England international Leighton Baines (ankle) remain sidelined.

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WEST HAM v EVERTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'Bilic not granting any old boy favours'. Print Edition | Subscribe