At my old site here on SB Nation, I thought West Ham had a chance to be the surprise team of the league before the season started. The fact that they are rock bottom of the table lets you know why I gave up on trying to comment on the general football world. It's good to be where you fit better.
I've always thought Avram Grant was a dolt, and clearly he was up against it at Portsmouth with their penalty and lack of talent, it's becoming clear the FA Cup Final appearance they managed was simply a bunch of players putting themselves in the shop window, and his Champions League Final appearance was a still-loaded Chelsea squad on auto-pilot. It still irks me to no end that this clod was able to put one over us in the semifinals, which Mourinho never could, and he still needed that bone-headed...no, galactically stupid Riise own goal to manage that. Had we gotten to a European Final and toppled United in that, well, the intervening years probably would have been easier to deal with. Such as it is, here's a West Ham squad that's not devoid of talent that can't tie their own shoes.
While we won't see old friend Robbie Keane, who's become so irrelevant I had totally forgotten he'd ended up in East London, there's some striking talent on display. Carlton Cole always seems to give us trouble, and Demba Ba who just arrived isn't to be sneezed at either. In midfield, Scott Parker never lets anyone down and I've always thought Tomas Hitzelsperger was underrated, if he goes. The Hammers are getting Matthew Upson back in time for this match, and he could partner Gabbidon in defense. Mark Noble is another in midfield who I think can be useful.
But let's face it, this team is in last for a reason. They give up close to two goals a game, which isn't good. They've only won one of their last five league games, though they are coming off a 5-1 hamm....no, not using that word, thrashing of Burnley in the FA Cup. But we saw this team at Anfield in November, and they were a clown car.
But then again, Liverpool haven't been on fire either. Our last three matches have been substandard from earlier ones while Dalglish has been manning the bridge, the draw with Wigan and the two games against Sparta. What should help is the return of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez. There are some injury concerns in defense, where Daniel Agger looks certain to miss out and Martin Kelly is a question. If the Pool have to go with Carragher and Wilson at the fullbacks, it really blunts their attacking premonitions. Hopefully Kelly can at least go, with the questionable Johnson.
We'll have our midfield troika of Gerrard, Lucas, and Meireles going, and I'm going to guess for a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 with Joe Cole, Suarez, and Dirk Kuyt the front three in however their lined up.
I'm hoping for another encouraging performance, instead of the just-enough we've seen recently. Gerrard and Suarez should provide a lift.
Let's do it.