Bilic seeks Grand Slam for West Ham

LONDON • West Ham fans are forever blowing bubbles and they will hope that a particular one does not burst today.

The Hammers could become the first Premier League side in 20 years to complete a Grand Slam - wins against the "big five".

Slaven Bilic's men travel to Old Trafford having already beaten Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.

A first league home defeat for Manchester United this season will make West Ham the first team since Leeds in 1995 to accomplish that feat. The only other side in the Premier League era to manage such a quintet of wins were Aston Villa in 1992.

"The pressure is there, but not because of the wins we have made so far. But just because we want to win the game," Bilic said.

"It comes with the territory. We didn't win in the last four games. So we feel the pressure in a positive way. It is Manchester United away and they have not lost a game at home. They are not giving you a lot of chances," he added.

Both sides, however, have injury problems.

West Ham are without striker Diafra Sakho, who has hit the net five times this season, as well as other attacking players like Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia.

United will be without captain Wayne Rooney and defender Marcos Rojo.

Rooney has an ankle injury from the 1-1 draw with Leicester City at the weekend, while full-back Rojo has suffered a repeat of the shoulder dislocation he had last season.

"Wayne's injury is more heavy than we thought and it's a nasty injury," said United manager Louis van Gaal. "When we go on it's been getting worse. We have to let him train to make the ankle stronger, that's very important.

"I cannot say (how long he'll be out) because the doctor shall decide that with Wayne of course. He is training well in the rehabilitation."

Rojo's injury gives the Dutchman a problem at left-back, where Daley Blind is expected to start today.

United have already lost Luke Shaw to a long-term injury, leading to speculation that the club will move for a left-back in the January transfer window.

But van Gaal was not certain of strengthening his squad next month.

"They are always contact injuries and you cannot afford that. We have a lot of contact injuries and also long-lasting injuries so that's our problem," he said. "So we are looking (at players to sign in the January transfer window) but as you know it is not so easy to buy players and in January it is more difficult. We are looking but it is not for sure."

Phil Jones (ankle/foot) and Ander Herrera (hamstring) are also ruled out against West Ham, but young midfielder Jesse Lingard (hamstring) is returning to fitness after missing the game against Leicester.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Bilic seeks Grand Slam for West Ham'. Print Edition | Subscribe