Slaven Bilic has admitted that West Ham are in the Premier League relegation battle after his side suffered a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on Wednesday night (5 April). The Croatian manager also revealed that he had to substitute Michael Antonio and Andy Carroll at the Emirates Stadium due to illness and a groin issue respectively.
Three second-half goals from Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud helped Arsenal hand West Ham their fifth consecutive league defeat, leaving them only five points ahead of the bottom three with seven games remaining.
Bilic admitted the Hammers are now in the relegation battle but urged his team to put behind the recent bad run ahead of the crucial coming encounter with 18<sup>th place Swansea.
"We are looking over our shoulders, of course, and there is no point in hiding it. It's not being negative, it's being realistic," Bilic confirmed after the Arsenal match.
"I told the guys, 'OK, forget tonight, we have a few massive games in front of us.' We have a very important game against Swansea on Saturday and we will fight to keep Premier League status.
"It is the key point for me to get that confidence back before Saturday. We need one win and it will change everything for us. Three points at this stage of the season are massive."
West Ham were hit by two further blows at Arsenal after both Antonio and Carroll were forced off during the game.
The midfielder was only just returning from a hamstring injury but Bilic played down injury concerns after revealing that he was replaced due to illness – and should be available to face Swansea.
"His hamstring is really good but around lunchtime, he started to vomit. He didn't feel well and then in the first half he was good, but the time to recover was long," Bilic said. "Thats why we decided to change him, to save him for Saturday, because he was no good after half an hour. It was not an injury that he will have to miss a few weeks for."
However, the manager was less positive about Caroll after he was replaced by Diafra Sakho in the 64<sup>th minute of the game due to a groin issue.
"He said at half time he felt his groin. The medical department said he was OK but I decided that if it still was like that I would change him after 60 minutes, and I did that," Bilic explained.