Reds Looking For A Rebound
After a poor start to the season, Liverpool had finally begun to show some semblance of form by going on an unbeaten run of six games in all competitions. But a trip to Stoke City saw them relinquish their undefeated run by falling to a 2-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
That game was reminiscent of the Reds’ inconsistency, as it was only a week before that they were celebrating a well-earned victory over Chelsea.
But Hodgson will know that he is one positive run of games away from resurrection, as six points separate the Merseysiders from fourth placed Manchester City.
And playing the bottom placed team in the standings at home can only prove to be a confidence booster in the quest to restore lost pride and reclaim what almost used to be a rightful place in the Champions League.
But for all that to happen, the home side will have to first overcome a few problems in their line-up, as talismanic captain Steven Gerrard has been ruled out for up to four weeks after picking up a hamstring injury whilst on international duty. To add to Hodgson’s woes, Lucas is suspended for this game, and Joe Cole remains a doubt.
This should give Christian Poulsen a chance to shine and redeem himself in the eyes of the fans, after experiencing a poor start to his career on Merseyside.
Hammers Still At The Bottom
Thirteen games gone, and West Ham have registered only one victory against their name and are currently at the very bottom of the Premier League - albeit on goal difference. Still, a tally of nine points from 13 games is an underachievement by any standards.
They won’t be able to get out of the drop zone by registering a victory over their opponents, but three points would be a massive step in the right direction.
Avram Grant’s head appeared to be on the chopping block some time back, but vice-chairman Karren Brady has maintained that the gaffer continues to have the owners’ blessing at the moment.
"When you make a very big and important decision to replace a manager you have to take a lot of things into account. We thought very carefully when we appointed Avram and I can assure you there is no finger on the button," she said recently.
"We are not getting results and the table does not lie but we will do everything in our power to support him. "
But having the favor of the upper echelon at Upton Park is far from what the Israeli boss needs at the moment, though it must certainly help in knowing that he is in no danger at the moment.
However, it also means that he has the future of the Hammers in his hands, as a continued inability to register a victory could see the club having to play a deadly catch-up just to secure survival – since they are already four points behind an 18th placed Birmingham City.
Steven Gerrard (hamstring) is sidelined for up to four weeks after suffering an injury during the recent international friendly against France.
Worries abound in the engine room, as Lucas is suspended for this game. This means that the Reds will have two different central midfielders for this game.
Joe Cole (hamstring) is unlikely to return in time for this clash, while Daniel Agger (calf) will be unavailable through injury.
But manager Roy Hodgson is booster by the availability of Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson for this encounter. Fabio Aurelio has also declared himself fit to face the Hammers, after playing 75 minutes in a reserve game against Blackpool.
Possible starting line-up: Reina; Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky; Meireles, Poulsen, Spearing, Maxi; Kuyt, Torres.
West Ham United
Julien Faubert is back in contention, but is unlikely to make the cut into the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Tal Ben Haim (ankle) is still a doubt, and may not make in time for the game.
Valon Behrami and Kieron Dyer are both doubtful for this encounter, but the latter could come back in time to feature at Anfield.
Manuel da Costa (ankle), Mark Noble (Appendicitis), Thomas Hitzlsperger (thigh) and Jack Collison (knee) all out with respective injuries, and will not make the trip to Merseyside.
American defender Jonathan Spector is still not in favor.
Possible starting line-up: Green; Jacobsen, Upson, Gabbidon, Ilunga, Boa Morte, Kovac, Parker, Dyer, Obinna, Piquionne.
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