Slaven Bilic says West Ham face a huge challenge when they take on Crystal Palace on Saturday and highlighted the threat of Yohan Cabaye, who he labelled a “special” talent.
West Ham go into the game at Selhurst Park two spots below fourth-placed Palace in the Premier League, and Bilic was full of praise for Alan Pardew’s side – and midfielder Cabaye in particular – in his pre-match media conference.
“Palace are a good team, they are good in everything – defending, contacts, counter attacks,” Bilic said on Friday.
“They also have Cabaye who can do special things on the pitch. They are doing really, really good. It is a London derby, it is a great game and it will be an extremely difficult test.”
Bilic is concerned the international break may have come at a bad time for West Ham – with their momentum stalled after a run of five league games unbeaten – but feels there is little he can do to ensure his players continue as they left off.
He continued: “You can’t stop players losing momentum.
“You can try to press a pause button but then to restart it when they come back… even on the best DVDs when you press pause, you can’t make a meal.
“Maybe you can make a sandwich, but then after one minute it automatically starts again and you have to rush back. We have to restart it again and I hope we can do it.”
The West Ham boss also revealed that star striker Enner Valencia is nearing a return to the team having been out since July with a knee problem.
“He is looking sharp and very good,” added Bilic. “Now it is just a matter of fitness and slowly getting him in shape to be fit.
“He played 20 minutes against Reading in the practice match and looked really well. But he still needs a couple of weeks.
“He is not in contention – but then when I see him on the training ground I think ‘maybe Saturday’ as he is one of those who makes you think.”