Wednesday, September 19The Voice of London

Around the grounds: London’s Premier League managers preview the weekend’s action

Ahead of a big weekend of football, Premier League managers across the capital have been speaking to the press on Friday afternoon.

Here are the big stories from around the grounds, including updates from West Ham United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Watford.

West Ham United – Slaven Bilic

The Croatian is under huge pressure in east London, with the Hammers struggling 16th in the Premier League. They did have a massive win in midweek against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup at Wembley and Bilic is hoping his team can push on.

They have a tough fixture away to fellow strugglers Crystal Palace, who are rooted to the foot of the table. Ahead of his side’s trip to Selhurst Park, Bilic said, as per the BBC:

“It’s a big game, a massive game, a game of massive importance. We have to show our quality and our character.”

He also confirmed that West Ham are still sweating on the fitness of Michail Antonio, but a decision to include him in the squad will be made later on Friday.

Crystal Palace – Roy Hodgson

Former England manager Hodgson has a fight on his hands to keep struggling Palace in the Premier League. The Eagles are currently bottom, with just one win and three points. That win did come against reigning champions Chelsea, so Hodgson will be positive that the tide is turning.

Palace host a West Ham team who will be in great spirits after their midweek win, hoping to kickstart a decent run of form.

And Hodgson has called on fans at Selhurst Park this weekend to get behind their team, suggesting the supporters can act as a 12th man. But he also knows it’s down to the players on the pitch to give them something to shout about.

“We know how important the fans are to us because they are very much a 12th man when we play at Selhurst Park. We realise that the responsibility is totally ours if you want fans cheering you on and supporting you to the extent our fans will do, then we’ve got to give them something to cheer about.”

Palace boss Roy Hodgson. Photo credit: Nick Sarebi

Tottenham Hotspur – Mauricio Pochettino

Spurs are flying high in the league but face a very tough trip to Manchester United in Saturday’s early kickoff. Jose Mourinho’s side are only ahead of Tottenham on goal difference, so whoever takes three points on Saturday will put serious pressure on City at the top.

If the task wasn’t already tough enough for Pochettino’s men, they’ve been rocked by the announcement that star striker Harry Kane will miss the game.

He picked up a hamstring injury against Liverpool last week and although he’s definitely out of the trip to Manchester, Spurs will be hopeful he’s fit to play against Real Madrid at Wembley next week.

“For tomorrow, we cannot take a risk,” the Argentine manager said, per the Guardian.

“It’s a minor injury, very small, but we cannot take a risk. We’ll see after for Wednesday against Real Madrid. Tomorrow, it’s impossible.”

Chelsea – Antonio Conte

Another manager who appears to be under pressure after a less than idea start to this season is Conte.

The Italian led Chelsea to the league title in his first season but nine games in to the 2017/18 season and the Blues are in fourth, already nine points off Manchester City at the top.

A midweek win against Everton will give Chelsea confidence ahead of their trip to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Conte confirmed that Victor Moses and N’Golo Kante will both miss the game, although he hopes the French midfielder will be fit for a midweek game against AS Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Photo credit: Nazionale Calcio

Arsenal – Arsene Wenger

Across north London, Wenger has been speaking ahead of his sides home game against Swansea City. After a chaotic week behind the scenes at the Emirates, Wenger had his say on dissent at Arsenal’s AGM a few days ago.

“You want everyone to support the club. All of us have the same target – to make Arsenal successful.”

The Frenchman also confirmed that everyone who featured in the Gunners midweek win against Norwich City is available for the weekend, while defender Callum Chambers will return to training on Monday after recovering from an injury picked up in September.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. Photo credit: l3o

Watford – Marco Silva

Watford have been very impressive so far this season. They’re currently sixth in the league under Silva and are on course for their highest finish in the Premier League era. They host Stoke City on Saturday in one of the 3pm kickoffs.

The Portuguese hopes his team can push on after an impressive display against Chelsea last weekend, despite the loss.

“We missed two or three clear chances [last weekend], fantastic chances to score at the beginning of the second-half. But most important is that we created the chances, that our players were in the right positions to score.”

“I am happy with how we play, how we compete to take points in every match. We need to prove this every day.”

Words: Oliver Browning | Subbing: Étienne Fermie

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