West Ham v Wolves: Bilic challenges Hammers to maintain defensive strength


Slaven Bilic has challenged West Ham to maintain their defensive solidity as they welcome a counter-attacking Wolves side to Upton Park in the FA Cup third round.

The Hammers take on the Championship team on Saturday having seen off Southampton and Liverpool in back-to-back league games.

Those results followed a run of five consecutive draws and it is West Ham's defence that has most impressed Bilic.

Bilic's men have conceded just three goals in their last seven games and are only four points outside the Champions League places in sixth in the Premier League.

He told a pre-match media conference: "I've watched a few games and they [Wolves] are on a good run. They are a very compact team and very confident because they have not conceded in three games.

"They are hard to beat and good on the counter attack. It's a cup tie, and always a platform for big surprises, but of course we are approaching the FA Cup very seriously.
"We are expecting a tough game, but we are playing at home, I am expecting us to play good and progress

"Our defence and resilience, and positive stubbornness that we've shown is not only the back four, but the whole team who have defended as a unit.
"The back four gets the praise for that, starting with the goalkeeper, but it was the whole team who defended and made it a little bit easier for the back four players. 

"We have a big game on Saturday and a big game on Tuesday [against AFC Bournemouth]. The show goes on. We have to show it every week."

Manuel Lanzini (groin) will not feature for West Ham, while Victor Moses (hamstring) and Diafra Sakho (thigh) are still out. Defender Winston Reid (hamstring) has a chance to be involved.

Wolves' good run that Bilic referred to has seen the Midlands club win three straight games, beating Reading at home before taking three points from away matches with Charlton Athletic and promotion chasers Brighton and Hove Albion.

Despite their recent fortunes, Wolves are still seven points adrift of the play-offs. Manager Kenny Jackett is undaunted by the prospect of a trip to east London.

He told Wolves' official website: "It'll be interesting at West Ham because obviously they're a Premier League team but that's followed by two home games and we do have to press them higher up the pitch, and try to take a bigger chunk out of the game than we have.

"We have a game against West Ham that we're greatly looking forward to but then two very important home games against Fulham and Cardiff, we're not underestimating anybody but we want to see them as opportunities."