West Ham must defend Europa League spot, says Manuel Pellegrini
Manuel Lanzini returns from injury as West Ham try to bounce back from 'accident' of 4-0 Carabao Cup defeat to League One Oxford
By Liam Grace
Last Updated: 27/09/19 1:51pm
Manuel Pellegrini has challenged his West Ham team to defend their Europa League qualification spot as Manuel Lanzini returns from injury.
The Hammers sit fifth in the Premier League after six games, having lost just once this season on the opening day, and travel to Bournemouth on Saturday looking to build on their 2-0 victory over Manchester United last time out.
The Cherries are in good form too, having won back-to-back Premier League matches against Everton and Southampton, but both sides are also looking to recover from midweek Carabao Cup exits to lower-league opposition.
Pellegrini, buoyed by the return of Argentinian attacking midfielder Lanzini, who missed the win over United and the defeat at Oxford after impressing in his opening five matches, said: "At this moment we're in fifth position.
"We must try to defend that position, it's a European spot. We are just starting, it is six games.
"Sometimes you must try to reach that position, in this moment we are [in it], so we must try to keep it. The best way of doing that is winning.
"[Bournemouth] play offensive football. They have dangerous strikers. We must be very concentrated on defending but we are going for three points. We'll attack from the first minute and look for three points more.
"Against Manchester United we played a very good game. We had good concentration. If we can repeat that performance, we'll win a lot of games."
As well as Lanzini, West Ham also have Ryan Fredericks and Xande Silva available for the trip to the Vitality Stadium, but Michail Antonio and Winston Reid are still ruled out.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, was asked to reflect on the 4-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Sky Bet League One side Oxford on Wednesday after defender Pablo Zabaleta issued a public apology to the club's supporters.
"This is football and you never know what will happen," he said. "It's not always the big team that wins the game.
"You can't take anything away from Oxford, they played well. We couldn't score goals and found a team that played well.
"I hope it was an accident and we must return to understand to play against every team with 100-per-cent concentration and intensity.
"When I arrived here at West Ham, I saw how many goals they conceded in the previous season. Last season we reduced that by 10, 11 goals.
"That is also too much so we continue working to try and reduce that more. For the moment, until the last game, we are doing well. It is a matter of concentration."