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Liverpool v West Ham United - Match Preview

Filed: Friday, 19th November 2010
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy was a bit under the weather last week. We told him to "take as long as it takes" to get better. Unfortunately it only took a week....

Next up is a journey North West to Anfield where we visit Liverpool for a 5.30pm kick-off which will be televised by ESPN for those of you with the wherewithal to shell out for it.

Liverpool currently sit in 11th place with 16 points after a poor start to the season from which they have staged something of a mini-recovery over the past few weeks. They've won three, drawn one and lost two of their last six, the latest defeat at Stoke last weekend slowing down the recuperation process somewhat. Things seemed to be looking rosy after they had dispatched Chelsea 2-0 at home, though Sunderland's win last week put that into a bit of perspective. Before the Stoke defeat they struggled to a 1-1 draw at whatever Wigan are calling their stadium these days in the midweek fixture. To cap a miserable week the 2-0 defeat at the Britannia saw the late dismissal of Lucas who, as a consequence, will sit this one out.

All the talk up there at the moment has been of the absence from this fixture of Steve Gerrard. The Liverpool staff have been moaning like stink about the fact that their precious little one was made to play nearly all of the England friendly against France the other night. Message boards have been bemoaning the fact that that other teams' players seem to pick up “injuries” shortly after an England squad is announced. Miracle cures are then discovered just before the following Saturday allowing the previously infirm to play for their clubs the following Saturday. All of which is rather laughable given Liverpool's record in these affairs. The only incredible thing about the whole affair is that Gerrard was available in the first place. As for the moans about how long Gerrard played before his hamstring gave way, well if he couldn't manage two matches in a week it suggests a certain lack of fitness doesn't it. At the end of the day, if and when Hodgson becomes England boss then – and only then – ought he to have a say in how long a player should stay on the pitch. And that goes for Ferguson as well.

Gerrard's absence will at least mean we'll be spared the sight of him throwing himself to the floor at the slightest mention of a tackle. There is, of course more to his game than that though. In recent weeks he's gotten away wit two-footed challenges and spiteful elbows to the head of opponents that would have seen others facing lengthy bans. In that respect maybe there's some sort of poetic justice in his absence – though I would never wish injury on a player. I know of a DJ who might beg to differ however.

Their other talisman is Spanish striker Fernando Torres. Torres' pair against Chelsea included a couple of fine finishes. However, it's fair to say that he hasn't been the same player since the injury last season that threatened his participation in the World Cup this summer. As it happened he recovered enough to make the flight down to South Africa but was clearly out of sorts in the opening few games. Spain ended up leaving him out of the starting XI and he was barely missed as Spain went on to take the trophy. Torres did make an appearance in the notorious final, coming on at the start of the second period of extra time. However his participation ended in agony as a groin strain put the tin hat on what for him must have been a rotten tournament on a personal level. His home record for Liverpool is rather spectacular though – he's picked up something like 44 goals in 47 matches – like his predecessor Michael Owen you get the impression that if he were stretchered off the ball would still come off him and go in if he were playing against us.

There are a trio of ex-Irons in their ranks. Poor old Joe Cole, being surplus to requirements at Chelsea must wonder what he has let himself in for this season. Unless of course, he has been hiding some previously unstated ambition to play in the Europa League for all those years. Cole will miss this one with a dodgy hamstring.

Another ex-Iron who was a doubt for this one was Glen Johnson . He had a groin strain that precluded his appearing for his country in midweek. He is, however, clear to play in this one. (Yes I know). Johnson is another who is seeing his career beginning to stagnate on Merseyside and he has apparently not been shy in voicing his disapproval of some of the team's tactics. Team-mate Aquilani, who is out on loan at Juventus, has suggested to his current paymasters that they could do worse than sign the England RB, though whether or not Turin has a B&Q for him to nick toilet seats from I have no idea.

On the other flank they will have Paul Konchesky. Konch is less than popular amongst the Anfield faithful and is seen as indicative of the sort of journeyman player that Hodgson has brought in since his arrival in the summer. We at the Boleyn are well aware of his limitations of course, but you could never fault him on effort. One two of the more enlightened amongst the home support have suggested that, had some of the so-called “star” names put in as much effort so far this season, maybe they'd be higher up the table, but they seem to be in a minority. In the meantime we will continue to have fond memories of the freak goal that came so close to winning the Cup for us a few years back, even if he couldn't leg it fast enough once his old enemy Curbishley had taken over in E13.

And so to us. Well team news is that the Da Costa ankle injury picked up a couple of weeks back is serious enough to keep him out until well into the new year, just as a partnership between him and Upson was starting to develop. Ben-Haim's continued absence is likely to mean a reprieve for Ilunga who has been a shadow of the player we had on loan a while back. Green and Cole survived their trip to Wembley without disturbing the statisticians. Dyer? Well your guess is as good as mine.On the plus side of the injury list Zavon Hines had a run-out for the reserves recently, though it's far too early for him to be making the squad. Behrami may also be available, which could see us go 4-5-1 with Piquionne up top.

I was two the last time we won up there. We've had it all at Anfield over the years, dodgy referees, offside goals and plain terrible performances, including a number where we've shot ourselves in the foot when handily placed. I reckon we're due a change of luck both in terms of this fixture and in terms of this season. Let's face it Blackpool's novel tactic of playing with two 'keepers at once was one we weren't expecting last week and some of the refereeing we've had over the course of this season has been little short of scandalous. Given the absence of the opposition's main threat and the fact that many acquaintances who haven't missed a trip to Anfield in donkey's years won't be available for this one all points to something special happening. So, for a prediction, I'm going to defy all logic and take us to win 1-0 with a scrappy goal that comes as the result of a dodgy decision in our favour in front of the Kop. And if all that comes off I'll stick a few bob on the lotto!

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Lost 3-0 – one of those just plain bad performances in front of a silent home crowd. Benayoun, Maxi and what was really a Green OG failed to rouse the Kop from its slumber.

Danger man: Fernando Torres 5 in 4 against us tells its own story.

Referee: Lee Probert Last see allowing some shocking tackles in our home match against Bolton last season. Referees owe us this season so if you're looking Mr Probert, a dodgy spot-kick would be nice.

Daft fact of the week: Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture in 2008. No, honest it was. Really.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Preview Percy
12:57PM 22nd Nov 2010
''@Steve The Hammer: I did say that my prediction was a 'defy all logic' one. It did rather depend on us turning up in the first place!''

by Steve the Hammer
07:36PM 20th Nov 2010
''Well done Preview Percy, ever the optimist with a 1-0 win. What happened then! All I can see is another lost game, 3-0 to boot. Talking of boot I would get rid of Cole who seems to be there just for the pay packet, and whilst we are at it I think Avram has had his run. We need a new manager, fresh blood, loads of enthusiasm and dare I say, play some decent football. Then and only then might we stay up.''

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