LIVERPOOL v WEST HAM: THE ANFIELD WRAP PREVIEW | The Anfield Wrap

TUR, EMQ, Tuerkei vs KroatienBLUENOSE Bilic rocks up at our manor. Gives it the bollocks about wanting to smash our heads in. We’re having none. The Reds kick his happy Hammers until their claret turns blue and send them yelping like piggies back to whence they came.

Winston. Brand. Alf Garnett. All them. All come to have a pop at the “Scarsers”. To sing their songs about slums and signing on, and thinking that the Anfield library will give them powers. It won’t. We’ll eat them alive. We’ve been down The Smoke and we wiped our shoes on the Arsenal. West Ham, Manchester United; they hold no fears for Brendan. We are ready. Our time is now.

Yeah.

Feeling a tad emboldened by the morale steroid boost of a highly creditable draw in the capital this week. Feeling like a second-placed Premier League flying machine. Feeling like that night is gonna last forever…

OK, the cynic might intercede at this juncture and laugh. Laugh long and hard. We got a 0-0 at Arsenal. It wasn’t quite Istanbul. It was hardly the reprise of the zenith that was that 5-1 thumping we gave the Arsenal back in February 2014. It was 0-0. On a Monday night, on the third outing of the new season, in the pissing pissing rain.

Yet, like the day out at fortress Stoke a fortnight ago, it represented something a bit bigger than its apparent reality. This 0-0, like the 0-1 at the Britannia, symbolised the righting of a wrong. This time not the 6-1 battering we took in May, but the 4-1 one we had to endure at the Emirates in March.

It was nice to remind the world that we’re still here. To let them know that reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. There was a real pulse back in the Liverpool team that cut a swathe — 45 mins worth of a swathe — across that London field on Monday night.

Football - FA Premier League - Arsenal FC v Liverpool FCWe aren’t back. We have started this campaign in a gently satisfying way though. Three clean sheets. We’ve put the first deposit down on a season. Winning a few. Doing that, always feels like something of a relief. Not an achievement, but a foundation for sure. We’ve earned the right to be really looking forward to Bilic’s West Ham coming to Anfield.

They were in ecstasy a fortnight ago in doing even better than us at the Emirates and properly having the Arsenal off with a clean 2-0 punch to the face. Since then though its been all toilet for them. Two defeats against pretty ordinary teams and six goals shifted. Five red cards. Bilic’s honeymoon phase has lasted all of one game.

Of course we’ve been here before. Flush with micro success. Prospect of a sunny day and a reassuringly-retro 3pm Saturday kick-off time. Seven points in three Liverpool FC vs floundering Premier League perma-makeweights. What could possibly go wrong?

West Ham’s last win at Anfield came about because of goals from Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in September 1963. This game is definitively, one of ‘them’. One of them ‘please Liverpool do not spoil it all by not just routinely winning this’ ones. Actually, scrub ‘routinely’. Just win, please.

Bilic has inherited a West Ham typically built in his predecessor’s image. Still an Allardycian outfit, this latest incarnation of the Hammers remains about muscularity and presence. Sometimes, on some days, those things count for something. Even in a Premier League that likes to thinks it’s evolved beyond such Cromagnon set ups.

Allardyce was one of that breed that loves a dust up at the big grounds and coming to Anfield and dogging a zero fest was always right up his strasse.

Again, as per Bournemouth a week or so back, this event is about the version of Liverpool Football Club that turn up on the day. A cliché for a reason. This is Liverpool’s game to lose. We know it. They know it. The laws of probability demand it.

As fans, as worriers, we are inclined to think we come unstuck more often than not in this kind of must win/no-excuse-not-to-win kind of contest. It’s an illusion. Liverpool will win this football match. It’s out there now and may the gods be damned.

In terms of team selection ruminations and posers it’s been an interesting week for Brendan Rodgers. Injuries to the captain and Adam Lallana forced a change in his thinking for Arsenal, and the performances of their stand-ins will in turn influence his selection against West Ham. This lame excuse for a pundit is going to bravely forecast an unchanged side from the 11 that started in north London.

Lucas gave his annual re-earning of the right to wear the shirt performance on Monday night and Rodgers could/should look to reward that and the player’s enduring loyalty. Hopefully with Leiva the security blanket in situ, the manager will give Emre Can a full uncompromised license to rampage.

James Milner too should see more opportunities to break from the centre of the park and to be that guy who pops up late — the unexpected, but oh so welcome guest — in the box.

Football - FA Premier League - Arsenal FC v Liverpool FCImpossible to see the manager shirking the temptation to let Firmino really stretch his legs. He’s been gazing at the perfectly boxed and packaged limited edition Roberto for a few weeks now and the temptation to finally unwrap and play with him at Anfield will be too much to bear.

Although the new lad gave a conservative performance at Arsenal, his quietly efficient contribution hinted that in harness with Benteke and Coutinho there could be an exciting and ruthless combination in the works.

So let’s go. Lets do these. Proper have them off. Let’s leave nothing in the dressing room, or still festering in that smelly boil of a season we’ve now left behind. Let’s make it a 10-point start. Let’s do it any way, any how, but let’s just get it done. Let’s just shit on some more cocker-knees. Tonight.

Last match v West Ham United: Premier League – January 31, 2015: Liverpool 2 (Sterling, Sturridge) West Ham 0.

Odds: Liverpool 2-5, Draw 17-4, West Ham 17-2.

Injured: Allen (hamstring), Sturridge (hip), Flanagan (knee), Lallana (hip), Henderson (ankle).

Referee: Kevin Friend.

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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo

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