Interviews

‘Blockbuster’ perfect tonic for Slav’s Albion

Slaven Bilić says Albion-Leeds is the ‘blockbuster’ game his side crave as they look to get back on track.

The Sky Bet Championship’s top two teams are equal on points and divided only by goal difference having traded places at the summit of the table all season.

In an impassioned WBA TV interview, Slav insists taking on a promotion rival is exactly what Albion need on New Year’s Day. 

“It is a massive game,” he said. “It is West Brom against Leeds. It is at home. It is first against second. There is two goals dividing us. It is New Year's Day. It is a blockbuster. We are big time looking forward to the game. Sometimes you think after a small blip like we have recently suffered and we have to admit it, you want an easier game. No, no, no - this is what you want.

“This is the opportunity that you really want. We have to show it. I want us to be positive, to be on the front foot, to be aggressive and to play football and show our big characters and our big quality players. They must show themselves on a big level on the big stage and there is no bigger stage than tomorrow’s game.

“You have to treat it as a normal game. It is only three points, you don’t get 13 points or 16 points, you get three points. This is more than a game and we all know that. We feel more pressure, but that has to be positive pressure to bring you into the situation where you are more focused, more determined, more committed and you want to sacrifice even more for your players. Everything is doubled.

“You have to be more energetic but at the same time more calm and concentrated. Not to lose because of the game, not to get carried away by something if it is not good for that moment of the game. It is a massive one.”

Among key clashes all over the pitch, Slaven knows all eyes will be on Albion’s star craftsman Matheus Periera - and is hoping he is given fair protection by the officials.

Slaven said: "He is playing consistently. For me he is the best attacking midfielder in the league. He has done it in basically no time. To come from a foreign country and a foreign league, it is a massive job he has done.

“You want your big players to step up even more in these games but it is not only about one player, it is about the team. He is the most fouled player in the league, that is not my opinion, that is stats. We have to protect these kind of players.

“I have nothing against intensity and nothing against challenges - that is why I am in love with this type of football that is played in the Premier League or Championship. But if it is a foul, it is a foul. We have to protect the big players and the stats are showing that the number of fouls Matheus has been given has dropped recently and I don’t like it.”

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