Daily News: Braithwaite linked? Sakho to return for Spurs

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Manager on Monday – West Ham Official Site

Following the 1-0 victory over Sunderland on Saturday 27 February, Slaven Bilic vowed that any side of his will always play to win while trying to play entertaining football.

The Hammers are 13 games unbeaten at home in all competitions going into Wednesday’s crunch game with Tottenham Hotspur, yet the manager believes the best is yet to come.

Looking ahead to the London derby, Bilic said: “We want to play entertaining football for the people to enjoy, and that should improve because we are improving. It should also get us high up the table, where? I don’t know.

“We try and win every game, no matter who we play. There’s a long way to go this season. OK, for now, 43 points we are in a good position.

“The only focus is to finish as high as possible. We don’t have any other goal than that, no specific target.

“Of course if you said at the start of the season we would be fifth, of course I would take it. But now we are here, we can relax we need to continue to fight every game because every game is tough, and there are a lot of teams near us.”

After Wednesday night’s game, under the lights at the Boleyn Ground, the Hammers travel to Merseyside to face Everton in what will be Bilic’s first return to Goodison Park as West Ham manager.

However, despite the personal links, he insisted he is fully concentrated on the task in hand.

He continued: “In every away game throughout my career, my assistant has always said, a point tomorrow would be a good result, and of course it would be. But if you offered me a point before a match, I wouldn’t take it, I would never take it. Sometimes after a game you are over the moon with a point, but before, no thank you, because we have a good team and I believe in them.

“In some ways we are already a victim of our own success. The only way we can stop the expectations rising is to lose games, which of course we don’t want. The pressure is always on.” 

‘He can do whatever he wants!’ – West Ham Official Site

Aaron Cresswell has backed teammate Michail Antonio to keep up his goalscoring form, even if it is at a risk to the left-back’s ankles!

Cresswell ran over to celebrate with goal-scorer Antonio after the winger’s strike against Sunderland on Saturday, only to find his ankles at risk as the No30 did the ‘Homer Simpson’ on the Boleyn Ground turf!

While his celebrations may have put the No3 in danger, Cresswell himself is delighted that Antonio is being rewarded for the hard work and patience he has shown since following the defender from the Championship to the Barclays Premier League.

“Michail has got five goals for us and all credit to him because he’s kept his head down and stayed patient and has come in and been fantastic over the last few weeks,” said Cresswell of the former Nottingham Forest star.

“I couldn’t tell you what his celebration was all about but it has to be one of the worst celebrations I think I’ve ever seen! No, seriously, he’s got his goal and he can do whatever he wants if he keeps scoring and I’ll let him take my ankles out again if he does!”

Saturday’s win over Sam Allardyce’s Black Cats may not have been a great spectacle, due in part to the cold temperatures and blustery wind that blew around the Boleyn, but Cresswell pointed to the importance of a win that took the Hammers back up into the top six.

With the visit of high-flying Tottenham Hotspur and a trip to Everton this week to look forward to, the ex-Ipswich Town man says the victory was all that mattered.

“You’d obviously like to play well but we knew it wouldn’t be an easy game on the eye,” he said. “We’ve got some tough games coming up so it was vital that we got the three points, especially here at home and keep that home run going.

“Andy has come on and I thought he was fantastic again. He has hit the bar and we also hit the bar in the first half through Nobes. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve had some chances as well and Adrian has made some good saves. On another day it could have been 3-1 or 4-2 but we’ll take the 1-0 and that’s a vital three points for us.

“We’re pushing up that table again and hopefully we’ll stay there until the end of the season.”

 From the Boardroom – David Sullivan – West Ham Official Site

It was a close game against Sunderland that could have gone either way. We took our chance and also hit the post twice.

They probably had three good chances but could not find the target and our keeper made one good save.

People could say we were lucky but we took our chances. Over the season that is the difference between the good teams and the bad teams.

The good teams manage to win a game like that and the bad teams don’t.

I thought Andy Carroll was really good when he came on as a substitute in the second half and he will make a difference.

We have now got a very tough game against Tottenham on Wednesday night and then we are away to Everton and then Manchester United in the FA Cup.

We have got some really tough games coming up.

We know we can play better than we did against Sunderland and you have not seen us at our best.

We have not been beaten at home since August and we hope that continues after Wednesday.

Stat’s a Fact – All-rounder Antonio – West Ham Official Site

After waiting patiently for his chance to shine in a Claret and Blue shirt, Michail Antonio has established himself as an important player for West Ham United.

On Saturday, the No30 scored for the third consecutive home match, robbing Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt and cutting in from the right before curling a low left-foot shot beyond Vito Mannone.

Having netted in the Emirates FA Cup replay win over Liverpool and the Barclays Premier League victory over Aston Villa, Antonio completed a personal hat-trick with the winner against Sam Allardyce’s Black Cats.

Saturday’s goal came as a result of hard work on the training field at Chadwell Heath, where the 25-year-old spent time working on that very move and strengthening his left foot.

Against Sunderland, Antonio showed the versatility and work-rate that has endeared him to the Boleyn Ground faithful.

His goal came from one of two shots he unleashed, both of which were on target. The first found the net and was celebrated with a unique Homer Simpson-style dance move that went viral on social media!

The second was an effort from distance that was safely handled by Sunderland stopper Mannone.

With West Ham dominating for long periods in possession and territory, Antonio’s heat map showed he spent the majority of the game in the attacking half of the pitch.

Aside from his shots, Antonio also delivered two crosses and embarked on two successful dribbles, while his defensive contribution was also significant, with the right winger making three tackles, two interceptions and one clearance.

With 49 touches to his name, the summer signing from Nottingham Forest was heavily involved and his performance won praise from manager Slaven Bilic.

“Michail probably dreamed about the Premier League for five or six years and then he had to wait for his chance,” said the manager.

“Now he’s become a player of massive importance to this Club. He is enjoying it and we are enjoying it too. He deserves it all.

“He deserves it for his work-rate, his attitude and how he is on a daily basis.”

West Ham chief provides Diafra Sakho fitness update ahead of Spurs – London24

West Ham are ‘very hopeful’ Diafra Sakho can end his three-month wait for a first-team return against Tottenham on Wednesday night, according to co-chairman David Gold.

The Hammers frontman had netted five times for Slaven Bilic’s men when he suffered a thigh injury against West Brom in November and he is now close to make a long-awaited return. Sakho has been putting the extra hours in away from the training ground and admitted recently he has been pestering head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke to give him the green light to return. And now it seems the Hammers are ready to involve him against Tottenham, with a starting spot on the bench looking likely. “I’m very hopeful that Diafra Sakho will play some part in Wednesday’s game,” Gold tweeted on Monday morning.

‘I won’t reverse it’ West Ham star reveals international football exile – London24

West Ham striker Emmanuel Emenike will not pull on a Nigeria shirt again, he has announced this weekend.

The 28-year-old, given the nod ahead of Andy Carroll on Saturday for his Premier League debut against Sunderland, has 37 caps and nine goals for the Super Eagles since making his international debut in 2011. And the departure of coach Sunday Oliseh led to Emenike being questionned on a return to the international fold despite having announced his retirement back in October. “I’m done with the Super Eagles, and I am making it clear again that I am not going back,” he told Sportinglife. “It’s my decision and I am not going to reverse it, I am sorry if I have offended anybody regarding this but no Eagles return for me. “Like I said, I didn’t quit because of anybody, it was a personal decision. Oliseh didn’t force me out of the Super Eagles as it was reported, I dont need anybody to speak with me before I take a decision. “It was my decision and I won’t reverse it.” “I want to focus on my career and play better for my team. Right now, I’m happy because I am playing my game and everything is working perfect. I can always wish Super Eagles well because I have been a fan for a long time.” Emenike will hope to keep his place in West Ham’s line up for the London derby with Tottenham on Wednesday night.

Slaven Bilic makes West Ham tactical promise ahead of Tottenham clash – London24

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has vowed to continue ‘playing entertaining football for the people to enjoy’ ahead of the visit of Tottenham to Upton Park.

The Hammers made it 13 games unbeaten on home soil with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday to climb to sixth in the Premier League table. They now they have a chance to put a real dent in their London rivals’ title prospects in what is the final clash with Spurs at their current home. And Bilic feels the best is yet to come from his side and will tell his Hammers to continue their attacking outlook against Mauricio Pochettino’s team. “We want to play entertaining football for the people to enjoy, and that should improve because we are improving,” he told the club’s official website. “It should also get us high up the table, where? I don’t know. “We try and win every game, no matter who we play. There’s a long way to go this season. OK, for now, 43 points we are in a good position. “The only focus is to finish as high as possible. We don’t have any other goal than that, no specific target. “If you offered me a point before a match, I wouldn’t take it, I would never take it. Sometimes after a game you are over the moon with a point, but before, no thank you, because we have a good team and I believe in them.”

West Ham’s Sam Byram full of praise for goal hero Antonio – The Wharf

West Ham United right back Sam Byram has nothing but praise for match winner Michail Antonio after the Hammers 1-0 win against Sunderland on Saturday.

The only goal of the game came from the man of the match midfielder just before the half an hour mark with a neat left foot finish from the edge of the box, meaning Antonio has now scored four goals in five games at Upton Park.

Byram, a January signing from Championship side Leeds United, says the former Nottingham Forest player is going from strength to strength in the Premier League.

The 22-year-old said: “I played against him a few times while we were in the Championship and he’s a handful. He’s a strong powerful boy and he’s getting better and better every time I see him play. He’s adding goals to his game now and he’s now a crucial part of the team and to see him doing it at the top level means I am really happy for him.”

Despite being a star performer for the Elland Road outfit for the previous three seasons, Essex boy Byram says he’s settling into life in east London although coping with the pressures of the Premier League is much tougher.

Byram said: “I’m really happy here and really enjoying it. Everything is a bonus. I’ve had opportunities to play some games now and the training is good. I’m surrounded by good players which can only make me better.

“The Premier League is a lot quicker and the pace of the game is a lot sharper and the touches and quality on the ball is higher than I’m used to. However, I’m adapting well and I am learning every day.”

This latest win means the Irons are now unbeaten at the Boleyn Ground since August. While dismissing talk of a Champions League place, the prospect of European football at the Olympic Stadium is tantalising.

Byram said: “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we don’t take for granted of where we are in the league. We know it’s down to hard work and team spirit and we’ll keep doing that.

“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want European football next season and it’s high on our agenda and everyone’s pulling together to get as high as we can in the league.”

With former loan right Carl Jenkinson now back at his parent club Arsenal for his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury, Byram has been catapaulted into a leading role. But his booking on Saturday means he misses out on the next two domestic games against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (March 2) and Everton (March 5), as well as the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United (March 13) because he is cup tied.

“To miss out on a chance to play against Tottenham who are also doing very well and test myself is disappointing,” said Byram. “It’ll be a good atmosphere. I’ll be here watching but it’ll be frustrating for me.”

West Ham and Crystal Palace watching Toulouse forward Martin Braithwaite – Daily Mail

West Ham and Crystal Palace are watching Toulouse forward Martin Braithwaite.

The skilful 24-year-old Denmark international began his career with Esbjerg, earning himself a move to Toulouse after netting 19 goals in 97 games.

This season has seen him play a starring role for the struggling French side having scored eight goals to take his tally for the club to 24 in 102 games.

Impressively his strikes this season have come from the wing even though his preferred position is as a central striker.

Hull City and Sunderland are also monitoring Braithwaite who has one year left on contract and Toulouse will sell for around £4m.

The flurry of interest surrounding the Dane intensified after he recently expressed his desire to play in England.

West Ham want at least two forwards in the summer with Marseille’s £30m-rated striker Michy Batshuayi their number one target.

They have also made initial enquiries for Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Paris St Germain though his £12m a year wages may prove prohibitive.

Braithwaite has signed up to ExcelFoot agency with Mark McKay who was instrumental in helping West Ham sign Dimitri Payet from Marseille.

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