(Reuters) - West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has said his ninth-placed team will need luck to make runaway leaders Chelsea drop points when the two sides clash on Monday, but he believes the Premier League title race is still wide open.
Chelsea visit West Ham’s London Stadium with a 10-point gap over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, and Bilic, who oversaw a 2-1 League Cup win over the leaders in October, said his team would have to be on top of their game to get a result.
“We beat them, and it means a lot because at least we know it’s not impossible. We have done it very recently,” Bilic told reporters on Thursday.
“With concentration, dedication and determination -- along with a little bit of luck, which is always needed when you play them -- we can get a result.”
With 12 league games left to play, overhauling Chelsea will not be easy, but Bilic said there was still a chance that Antonio Conte’s men could slip up.
”It’s still very open,“ he said. ”There are many, many points. Make no mistake, the clubs that are below us need points to stay up and improve.
“It’s the same up at the top with five clubs ... they still think they have a chance to catch Chelsea if they slip -- and you can slip in every game.”
Striker Andy Carroll is back in full training after a month out with a groin injury, but top scorer Michail Antonio is suspended after receiving two yellow cards in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Watford.
Bilic said that Antonio was in line for a new contract, but played down reports he was close to a new deal himself.
“I always treat my next few games as my contract, and I don’t think that much about it. Of course it’s nice, but I have a year and a half left on my contract,” he said.
The manager said signing a deal would not guarantee job security, citing Leicester City’s sacking of title-winner Claudio Ranieri as an example.
”Nowadays in football if you have ... four years left there is no difference at all,“ Bilic said. ”The last example of Ranieri is the biggest and best one.
“If you asked anyone in or related to football who has the safest job, we would all say 100 percent Ranieri. And then what happened with that? So I am not bothered about that, to be fair.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King