Belfast Telegraph

West Ham prepared to take advantage if Chelsea slip up - Slaven Bilic

Slaven Bilic insists the title race is not over as West Ham prepare to attempt to slow down Chelsea's charge.

The Blues head to the London Stadium on Monday night well clear of the chasing pack and looking near-certainties to reclaim the Premier League crown.

But Hammers boss Bilic believes Antonio Conte's men can still be caught in the same way that his side, who look comfortable in mid-table, cannot feel entirely safe from relegation.

"It is still very open, there are many, many points available," said Bilic.

"Like the clubs below us. Let's say we are in the position of Chelsea, or even better, regarding the clubs in the relegation zone.

"We are not afraid of our position, but you know that you need points to stay up and improve.

"Those teams who are down there, like Sunderland, Hull, they are hoping and planning to get the points. They know if they get the points they have a chance.

"It is the same with Chelsea and the five teams chasing them. They still think they have a chance to catch Chelsea if Chelsea slip, and they can slip in every game."

Meanwhile, former West Ham striker Frank McAvennie has welcomed reports that Bilic is set to be offered a new contract.

Bilic's current deal lasts until the end of next season but the Hammers board are said to be ready to open talks over a new one.

McAvennie, whose goals helped West Ham to their highest-ever finish of third in 1986, has been hugely impressed with the Croatian during what has at times been a tricky season following the club's move from Upton Park.

McAvennie told Press Association Sport: " It has been hard for West Ham. We go back to people being scared to visit Upton Park, nobody is scared or intimidated going to the new stadium.

"So they have to create that, to earn the right to intimidate teams.

"At the moment they are just starting to play again. They are playing better away from home at the moment but that will come.

"Slaven is definitely the right man for the job. I am delighted he is getting a new contract. He is so enthusiastic.

"The fans down there love it because he is kicking balls and he is jumping about like a player. He has the club at heart and good luck to him."

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