Bilic praises new-look West Ham defence after stopping Lukaku

Oli Fisher

Slaven Bilic believes a change to a three-man defence helped keep Romelu Lukaku quiet during their goalless draw against Everton on Saturday.

Hammers centre-backs Winston Reid, Jose Fonte and James Collins produced an excellent display as the Belgian striker was limited to a single blocked shot.

The West Ham boss admitted he was wary of Lukaku’s impressive goalscoring run against West Ham prior to the game, with the 23-year-old scoring in nine consecutive games against the Hammers, but praised his side for their meticulous approach to the game.

“It was about stopping the service to Lukaku,” Bilic said.

“He’s a major threat, scoring 24 goals. The next top goalscorer (for Everton) has four goals I think so it is about Lukaku. We stopped the service to him from (Ross) Barkley and (Kevin) Mirallas and when he was getting the ball, we tried to double him up.

“So the whole team, the three at the back, did a really amazing job on him.

“I’m really pleased with the way we played. Especially if you are talking about how solid we were, how composed we were, how we kept the shape. If you’re talking about effort, determination and defensive quality, then there’s nothing more I could ask from the players.

“They did brilliantly, I told them to be proud of themselves and to use this pattern as a motivation to boost their confidence for the remainder of the season.”

Bilic also confirmed that midfielder Robert Snodgrass missed out due to a swollen knee.