Thursday 16 July 2015 09:16, UK
Slaven Bilic has warned Arsenal his West Ham side’s early start to the season means they will be ready to spring a surprise on the opening day of the Premier League season.
With a place in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League coming via the Fair Play table last year, the Hammers’ season started just 39 days after the curtain fell on the 2014/15 season. By the time they travel to the Emirates they could already have played six competitive games.
Both Bilic and his predecessor Sam Allardyce have voiced their concerns over the number of games West Ham could play this season, but the Croatian knows that it could also give his team an early boost.
"It's good for the start, definitely," Bilic said.
"The best examples are from your own history, not from the books, the experience you have. I only have to look at last year when we played with Besiktas, we played Arsenal in the Champions League play-off.
"We were fitter than them. We had already played Feyenoord in the previous round and we were fitter. Arsenal had only played the Community Shield and Crystal Palace and we were already in the season.
"It gives you a definite advantage in the beginning of the season. What about November, December or Christmas time, which is already so tough here? We're going to try to be aware of all the situations."
Bilic’s squad could be strengthened by the signing of Alex Song after the Cameroon international spent last season on loan at West Ham. However, a niggling injury is delaying the Barcelona midfielder's move.
Ahead of the club's second round, first leg qualifier against Birkirkara of Malta on Thursday, Allardyce questioned whether Bilic's squad would be strong enough to cope with three cup competitions and a competitive league.
"Although I said I'm not going to discuss players from other teams, he is somewhere in between," Bilic said when asked about the prospect of signing Song.
“He played here on loan last year and he's a little bit injured. I don't deny that he was a great player who did really well last year and I would like him to stay with us."