West Ham boss Slaven Bilic believes his side’s push towards the top four of the Premier League table is down to the spirit they showed when injuries decimated the squad earlier in the campaign.
The Hammers are currently fifth in the standings, two points behind fourth place Manchester City, and they head into Saturday’s clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
The Irons current run of form is in stark contrast to the eight match winless streak they endured between Halloween and Boxing Day when injuries to key players such as Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho depleted the squad.
The east London club only lost two of those eight matches however and Bilic believes that run has helped his squad in the long-term, as it has built more character and confidence within the squad.
He said: “Injury wise we were in a bad position in November and December, but it was an important period for us to gain confidence and character. We weren’t losing those games and we showed a stubborn side. Perhaps that is the reason we are playing good now.”
The Hammers now have a near fully fit squad to choose from, with defenders James Collins and James Tomkins the only senior absentees, and Bilic believes he now has a strong group of players that can cope with any future injury crisis.
He continued: “We have a big squad now. hat makes us even more confident. We are taking it game by game and so far that thinking has put us in a very good situation.”
West Ham can move into the top four on a temporary basis at least if they beat Chelsea on Saturday and they are available at 5.00 to secure the three points, whilst Guus Hiddink’s side are on offer at 1.73 and the draw is priced at 3.60.