Matchday: Hammers @ Anfield

Try as I might I can only see an oncoming train wreck emerging from the Anfield tunnel.

Liverpool West HamI am of the firm opinion that if Slaven Bilic cannot secure at least 8 points from the next 5 games he should start to pack his bags since sticking with him would represent a massive gamble.  After yesterday’s results West Ham have slipped back into the bottom 3 and a heavy defeat today could see the situation deteriorate further.  Of the next 5 games today’s fixture is undoubtedly the toughest on paper with a point likely to be the optimistic target.  Unfortunately Liverpool’s weakness at the defensive end of the pitch is not something we are equipped to exploit with the firepower available.  Are we able to score as many as we concede as I see little prospect of keeping a clean sheet today.

“I feel the support and have said that so many times and I felt that support in our conversation this week. I believe in myself and my staff and look at what we achieved last year and I believe there is time to turn it around.”

– Slaven Bilic

It is standard practice for many West Ham fans to despise anything Scouse related and certainly the media love-in with Liverpool, despite their having won the last of their league titles some 26 seasons ago, can be immensely irritating.  However, I do believe that Jurgen Klopp, for all his idiosyncrasies, has done an impressive job since arriving at Anfield in October last year.  He looks to be on the way to the holy grail of football management of getting a team to perform in a manner that is greater than the sum of its parts.  His side is a team largely devoid of individual stars that plays to a well-defined system that is both effective and allows them to compensate for absent players much easier.  It is an interesting contrast to our own disjointed and disorganised efforts so far this season.

Head to Head

West Ham’s abysmal record at Anfield is there for all to see.  Last season’s first win in 50 odd years brought the total of away victories to an unimpressive 3 in a series where we have only scored 36 goals in 60 matches.  In a historic sense we will over achieve if we manage to score today.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

60

22

17

21

83

83

WWWLLW

Away

60

3

19

38

36

113

DWLLDL

 

120

25

36

59

119

196

 

Team News

It appears that both Antonio and Cresswell have recovered from the injuries incurred in the EFL Cup game at Old Trafford and are available to start.  As far as I know Kouyate remains injured and Collins is also out.  I am hoping this means an enforced change to the 3 at the back experiment.  It must be a toss-up who plays in goal (Adrian or Randolph) and who will be the main striker (Carroll or Fletcher).  There must be a tendency to take a risk averse, danger limitation approach (at least as far as player fitness is concerned) to this match with home games coming up against Burnley and Hull in the next week.   It will be nice if the players have re-discovered that intensity that they lost in training and can at least put in a shift this week.

“If there’s any reaction from the team, I don’t know, maybe we will be angry against West Ham.”

– Jurgen Klopp

My anticipated line-up for a side that will be primarily concerned with protecting the point is:

Randolph
Arbeloa  Reid  Ogbonna  Cresswell
Noble Obiang
Antonio  Lanzini Payet
Carroll

Liverpool are without Coutinho and Sturridge but unfortunately Mane is fit enough to return to the side that will be smarting from defeat at Bournemouth last week.  If I felt optimistic I might think that throwing away a two goal lead last week could have dented their confidence but the greater likelihood is that they will be raring to put it all behind them.

Man in The Middle

It is self-important celebrity referee Mark Clattenburg of County Durham in the middle today.  Clattenburg’s only West Ham fixture so far this season was the away defeat at West Bromwich.  He has taken charge of 15 games in all competitions this season totaling 59 Yellow and 2 Red cards.