Liverpool v West Ham United

Next up we pay a visit to Anfield where Liverpool will be our hosts. Kick-off is 1.30pm on Sunday which means we’ll be playing our second match in little over a week. Blimey. What will they think of next?

There's engineering works on the line between Liverpool Street & Shenfield first thing on Sunday so if you're trying to get to Euston for an early train you may need to take that into account.

The home side sit in 7th place with 48 points from their 31 matches played so far. They've won four and lost two of their last six in the league. The wins came at Villa last weekend (2-1), at home to Bale (3-2), away at Wigan (4-0) and at home to a Wembley-preoccupied Swansea (5-0).

They won't be qualifying for the so-called Champions League this season, and, with even the Happy Shopper version in the shape of the Europa League looking a long shot, the recent news about the club has been all about top-scorer Luis Suarez who has expressed an interest in moving on to someone who can promise European football. The quote ran something along the lines of: "if another team comes around with more prospects of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have [me], they are welcome. We would talk to the club, and we would see if I want to go [or] if I don't want to go." Rather predictably the club were keen to play the "probably misquoted in translation" card they like to use so much. The official statement said that they were "100% certain" that he would stay. It's not something I'd be too keen on testing out at the bookies myself.

The problem with Suarez, and make no mistake he is undoubtedly one of the most gifted players you are likely to see, is that far too many on Merseyside are happy to defend the indefensible as far as he is concerned - something that reached its nadir with the t-shirts worn by players after the Evra affair. Since then boss Brendan Rodgers was eager to broadcast how unfair the press treatment Suarez was getting over his diving was. Rodgers may have had a point with his comments that British players get an easier ride over the diving thing - Gerrard has won countless free-kicks over the years with that clever trick of tripping himself up after all. Admirable though it was to see Suarez disciplined by the club over his antics, I might have been more impressed had Rodgers read the riot act on any of the dozens of times Suarez had dived before actually admitting to it in the press. The message was clear - "don't admit anything and don't get caught".

Their captain is, of course, the inexplicably fireproof Steven Gerrard. One could be forgiven for the misapprehension that the player is the greatest player the world has seen if one based one's opinions on match commentaries. For example, watching England in midweek the ITV gentlemen marvelled over the three occasions he got a three foot pass right, strangely choosing to talk about the weather on the multiple - and boy were they multiple - occasions he gave the ball away. Like Suarez he knows when and how to fall over, though, as mentioned earlier, he benefits from the dispensation given to English players whenever the subject is raised. He'll score against us of course - he usually does - but I'd still like to know what secrets he holds over those responsible for providing tv commentary on matches to have them fawn over him so much.

The earlier part of their season was notable for a lack of resources up front. Having sent Andy Carroll on to better things they had hoped to bring in Clint Dempsey from Fulham. The Cottagers took exception to Liverpool's illegal efforts to sign the player and flogged the Septic to Spurs. This left them relying on Suarez and the youngster Raheem Sterling. At that time Sterling was also the subject of a rather unseemly struggle between the club and his "advisors". As he was about to turn 18 Liverpool needed to secure him on a new deal or face seeing him depart on the cheap at the end of term. Meanwhile the player's advisors were keen to see the player on top wages, in reflection, I am sure, of his then first XI regular status rather than from any desire to increase the value of their 10%. The contract got sorted in the end but one was left with the distinct feeling that nobody really gave a monkeys' about the kid's welfare as long as they didn't lose out financially.

The striker situation was sorted out during the January window with the arrival of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for a rumoured ?12m. I guess being behind Torres in the pecking order would make anyone seek a move. It was also rumoured that he had an aversion to being stuck out on the wing all the time rather than in his preferred central role.

The other arrival in the window was Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho who came in from Internazionale. Although technically an Inter player since 2008, Coutinho spent the first two years of his Italian career with his original Brazilian club Vasco Da Gama as a result of the Italian rule prohibiting the playing of foreigners under the age of 18. When he finally got to the San Siro there were noises from the then head coach Rafael Benitez along the lines of "this player is our future". Those words proved to be about as sensible as any of the rubbish Benitez has ever spoken and, failing to impress in Italy, he was eventually shipped off to Espanyol on loan. His form improved to the extent that he started appearing on people's radar and Inter will have made a tidy profit with the ?6.5-?8.5m (amount depending on from which paper you source your transfer fee info) received from Liverpool.

The main absentee for the home side for this one will be midfielder Joe Allen. Allen followed Rodgers from Swansea in the summer. However, his form over the season hasn't over-impressed with things not being helped by problems with his shoulder. Strangely for Liverpool, this wasn't caused by an over-abundance of chips balanced thereon. Whatever the issue the player went under the knife and will now miss the remainder of the season.

And what of us? Good win that one last weekend. We rode our luck a bit early on with the save from Jaaskalainen that came back nicely off the post but once we'd gone ahead there was no looking back. Apart from his goals - and the second was a bit special wasn't it? - Carroll had a superb match and West Brom found him unplayable. Shame then that the rules relating to his loan spell will prevent him from appearing in this one. Carlton Cole this is your moment to shine.

One has got to feel a little bit for George McCartney. Having done his ligaments in it was rotten luck to get the same injury again only minutes into his return. That looks to be his season done then. Mark Noble is also likely to miss out with some reports suggesting we won't see him again this season. Although Joe Cole was said to be close to a return last weekend in the end his hamstring hadn't recovered enough to see him make the squad and he's unlikely to be ready for this week either, which is a bit of a shame given that he a) owes us having scored against us in the reverse fixture; and b) owes them for stagnating his career. Noble's absence will mean another start for Gary O'Neil who had a fine game last weekend - even without the goal which was a deceptively fine finish.

History dictates that this will be a toughy. The last time we won here was so long ago they were still doing legal transfer deals in that part of the world. Even when we do play well at this venue the refereeing from officials who have contributed to their trophy count so much over the years usually kicks in to get them off the hook. Dives, dubious offsides, ignored fouls, I've seen us stitched up by them all over the years. The choice of official for this one (see below) doesn't inspire too much in the way of confidence either, especially with Gerrard and Suarez ever ready to collapse at the merest glance in the wrong direction.

Prediction? Well I'm loath to actually go to the bookies and actually bet against us on the grounds of superstition. However, if I were to raid the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered's Unseasonably Cold Weather Fuel Contingency Fund (?2.50) and place it on a result I'm afraid I'd have to be putting it on a 3-1 defeat this time, thus ensuring that new contract for the manager is put on hold for another week or two.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Anfield: Lost 0-3 November 2010. A totally spineless performance from us saw Johnson, Kuyt (statutory dubious pen) and Rodriguez put the home side into a 3-0 lead at half time. That was about it.

Referee: Anthony Taylor. We last saw this clown in our home match against Everton when he had an unbelievably poor game. The baffling sendings-off of Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson ruined the match. Thankfully the decisions were reversed on the grounds that no sane person would have made them in the first place. Taylor received no punishment of course.

Danger Man:Luis Suarez. They can moan all they like about how referees "misunderstand" him but, like Bale at Spurs, his undoubted talent is spoilt by his blatant cheating. He and Gerrard must be licking their lips at the prospect of having as dumb a ref as Taylor in charge for this one.

Daft Fact Of The Week: A few years ago when The Beatles finally settled their long-running dispute with Apple over the use of Beatles songs on iTunes, the good people at Fox News referred to the group as "Manchester's favourite mopheads". This, of course was factually incorrect. As everyone knows it was to London that the "Fab Four" escaped as soon as they had more than tuppence to rub together.

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