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The Iron Trial: The West Ham Preview

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We travel to the always tricky Upton Park on Sunday looking to keep the pressure on, and hoping that we can take it off of us.

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Alex Livesey


UK: 4PM GMT-Sky Sports

With last week's results leaving Red hearts dreaming, it drives home the point that we just need to worry about our own business. Brendan's said that many times, and now it's more important than ever.

There's no new injuries, Mamadou Sakho is now back, and has been back for awhile, as has Lucas Leiva, and even Jose Enrique took some light training this week.

Simon Mignolet has come out in praise of Martin Skrtel, who's scored 6 goals (5 from set pieces) this season, eyeing him as an asset if we do get to set up in a good position.

Luis Suarez needs just 2 more goals to equal Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 31 goals in a Premier League season, and you can see he craves it like a tiger. Daniel Sturridge will also be looking to get one as he was unlucky against Tottenham.

Lui's also top of the assist charts, but Steven Gerrard is only 2 behind him, and he'll have to be on point tomorrow, for 2 reasons. He'll need to once again be a driving force, but also he'll have to make sure he doesn't get himself booked before the card count resets next week.

Joe Allen is a possibility tomorrow, with West Ham's use of the long ball, so when we do get the ball, he would be spreading the play around, but the much taller Stevie or more technically gifted Phillipe Coutinho could also do that.

But going into this match, there's a certain degree of worry. You have Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, and Joe Cole, all of which who used to play at Liverpool, now plying their trade for the Irons, and so they'll be looking to prove a point.

Currently, The Hammers have 5 injuries, with Kevin Nolan, James Collins, Marco Borriello, Joey O'Brien, and George McCartney all suffering.

West Ham have won 3 of the last 6, with 2 wins on the bounce, including 4 of their last 6 at Upton Park, and although they were dangerously close to the drop zone early on in the season, the return of Andy Carroll has turned up their fortunes.

And he's involved in a key battle tomorrow. It'll be him vs Skrtel and Agger being the one to watch. He'll be the target man in the side, as normal, but can he perform just as well without his usual launch pad of Kevin Nolan? We'll have to shut down Stewart Downing, so he'll probably be spotlighted by Jordan Henderson as Hendo looks to keep up his performances up.

-Some other thoughts

-Ugh, these are the games that worry me the most, the banana skins. I know what you're gonna say: It's West Ham. My answer to you? Exactly. It's West Ham. At Upton Park. I expect a tricky time nonetheless. (JAceKopite16)

-I agree with Simon that Skrts could make a difference. But he's also scored 3 OGs. He could make a difference for them as well. (JAceKopite16)

-Luis PLEASE score. Please. That record needs to be yours. (JAceKopite16)

-Could we see DStudge play a bit deeper, maybe behind Luis? With the height of Carroll, we need to make sure that we win the battle in midfield, and Studge's strength could help that. (JAceKopite16)

-I'm a cold-hearted bastard, I'd start Sakho ahead of Danny Agger for that matchup against Carroll. (Matt)

-I'll be interested to see what tactical tweak BR has in store. West Ham play that 4-4-1-1 with Nolan just off of Carroll that could be taken from the 1960's, so it'll be interesting to see how BR responds to this aerial threat. (Matt)

-Sturridge is going to need to come up big. We're going to get some chances, we'll need to take them, and then we can play keep-away for the rest of the match. (Matt)