West Ham boss Slaven Bilic targets Manchester City scalp
Slaven Bilic has called on West Ham to put their European misery behind them and shock Manchester City for the second season running.
The Hammers were dumped out of the Europa League by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu after losing the second leg of their play-off 1-0 at the London Stadium on Thursday evening.
They do not have much time to lick their wounds, however, as next up is a trip to face Pep Guardiola's side who have started the season in impressive form.
Yet West Ham pulled off a surprise early season-win at the Etihad Stadium last term and, despite a lengthy injury list including Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew, boss Bilic sees no reason why they cannot repeat the trick.
"It wasn't very likely last year because they had started great and had 15 points from five games without conceding a goal," Bilic said at his pre-match press conference.
"But we played a really good game. We scored twice in the first half.
"In the second half they put us under pressure and were really dominating and creating a few chances, but they missed them and we were good in defending the box. Then we made that huge win.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't do it this season. We know it's a big challenge, not only regarding our injury situation, but we are hoping and our whole plan is to have a good game and to get something out of it.
"It's going to be hard, of course. They've shown already they are top-class players and they've gelled.
"They were the most impressive in their Champions League game against Steaua in Bucharest, but what gives us hope is that Sunderland made it hard for them and so did Stoke - the result was 4-1 but it was not that easy and the game was very even for a long period.
"Man City were Man City last year and we can do it again."
Bilic, who is hoping to tie up a deal for Juventus striker Simone Zaza over the weekend, could welcome back France star Dimitri Payet from a spell out injured.
Skipper Mark Noble should shake off the knock which kept him out in midweek but fellow midfielder Havard Nordtveit is out with a foot injury.