Slaven Bilic hoping West Ham can follow up Tottenham win against Liverpool
West Ham have already spoiled Tottenham’s season and now Slaven Bilic has his sights set on ruining Liverpool’s.
Spurs saw their title hopes dashed when they were beaten 1-0 by the Hammers at the London Stadium last week.
Next up for Bilic’s side is a visit from Liverpool, who desperately need a win to keep their Champions League qualification bid on track.
But although West Ham are now safe from relegation, they are unbeaten in five matches and Bilic has targeted back-to-back top-four scalps.
“It’s a big game for us, of course, we want to continue our form,” said the Hammers boss.
“Results-wise it’s even bigger for them because they have to win to keep it in their hands.
“But we don’t care about their wishes or what aims they have – I am really expecting a big game for us with the same kind of adrenaline and motivation as it was against Spurs.
“I know it’s going to be very hard because Spurs was a bit different, but I’ve told the players already ‘it’s Liverpool at home, it’s our last home game of the season – it can’t be any bigger’.
“If you are playing Liverpool in front of 60,000 people it’s the best situation, and now we can switch off the radios – we don’t have to watch the Saturday games praying or hoping or with a Rosary in our hands.
“That’s a positive thing, if we are comparing the game against Spurs. Now we are relaxed – and not in a negative way – I am expecting us to be even better than we were against Spurs.”
Liverpool have been in and around the top four all season, but with Manchester City and Arsenal on their tails someone will have to miss out.
Reds captain James Milner this week admitted he would feel ‘sick’ if Liverpool ultimately failed to qualify for the Champions League.
And Bilic added: “Every league is difficult but here you have maybe six clubs that are expecting to win the title and for them not to get in the Champions League, it’s a failure of course.
“But one of them will not make it. So for Liverpool, I don’t know their media, their expectations or whatever – I don’t spend too much time thinking about it – but they are a big club and they have been up there for the whole season.
“I think they will be very disappointed if they don’t make it – but then if they do make it they will definitely present it as a massive achievement, which it is, in this kind of league.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is confident his players can handle the growing pressure as their Champions League hopes come down to their final two matches.
However, he accepts it is not just a top-four place at stake as failure to secure a return to Europe’s elite club competition will most likely impact on his transfer business in the summer.
The Reds require two wins to guarantee Champions League football next season but anything less leaves them open to being caught by Arsenal or Manchester United, both of whom are currently outside the top four but with matches in hand.
By the time they play West Ham at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the Gunners could have closed to within a single point.
The Hammers are a recent bogey side for Liverpool, who have not beaten the Londoners in their last five attempts.
Slaven Bilic’s side have kept four clean sheets in their last five outings, meaning it is likely to be another tense affair for Klopp’s players.
“The pressure is coming at the end of the season, that’s how it is,” said the German.
“If you have no pressure you don’t go for anything, that’s the 100 per cent truth.
“We have this kind of pressure, that’s the problem at the top of the table; all the competitors are really strong and they can all win football games, but we are strong also.”
Klopp had previously stated that transfer targets who were only interested in Champions League football would be quickly dispensed with as he was looking for players who had a more rounded view of what he was trying to build at Anfield.
However, he admits failing in their quest for a top-four finish would give rivals the upper hand in the summer window.
“It probably has influence, that’s how it is,” he added.
“The players we are talking to, because they are all good players, I know they have offers from other clubs (and) maybe they play Champions League or not, or whatever.
“It’s important – how it is always important – for the club.
“Everybody knows it’s a lot of money in the Champions League, it’s not only the sports challenge, even though it’s really exciting, it’s also the money you can earn and as a football club we have to do this too.”