West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic says the Premier League's smaller teams are starting to build the same quality as the elite clubs in the race for title.

The Hammers face on of the elites on Saturday (January 23, 5.30pm) in the shape of Manchester City at Upton Park, with just eight points separating the two teams in 6th and 3rd respectively.

Bilic said the money in the Premier League meant that many clubs were able to exceed the usual expectations.

Bilic said: “It’s not a weakness of the top teams – it’s the strength of the other teams. It’s totally logically because this kind of popularity and money that all the teams have gives the smaller teams opportunity to close the gap.

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“Manchester City are a good example of this because of the money they’ve spent in the last seven years. They can go out and buy another three Agueros. They can buy better player than they did 10 years ago.”

City are one of the favourites for the league title this season but the race to the top has been hard this season.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini will come under pressure if a third title success is not achieved with Pep Guardiola waiting in the wings.

Bilic said: “You have a minimum of four clubs before the season who can say their aim is to win the league.

“It wouldn’t be a failure if Manchester City do not win the league but they have to fight yuntil the end. If the lose out in the last two or three games then, for me, that is not a failure.”