CAN’T wait for tonight. Train leaves at four. Cans are in the fridge. Just need to write this nonsense, and we’re all set.
In the current climate, it is probably worth pointing out that adult tickets for tonight’s game are £20. With a cheap advance single train down and whatever Mick Clarke charges me for petrol on the way home, I reckon that qualifies as affordable football.
But let’s focus on the footy. It’s what we are all in it for. Jürgen Klopp is probably looking forward to some football after a weekend in hospital and he is back in the hot seat tonight to lead Liverpool on the march to Wembley (again).
But which Reds will he pick?
Those who fancied Danny Ward to start have been left disappointed by images of Adam Bogdan with his washbag and gloves heading for London, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Ward hasn’t gone as well.
Maybe Adam Bogdan just fancied going down to watch? What else has he got on? It would be a bit mean if they told him he couldn’t.
I know on several occasions three or four keepers have travelled with the team, including hot Under-18s prospect Shamal George. Maybe they worry one might get lost.
It doesn’t quite feel now or never for Ward — there is the Europa League to come after all — but not starting him would make you wonder what Simon Mignolet has to do to lose his place if setting a defensive wall that doesn’t cover any of the goal and then diving over the ball isn’t it.
Ahead of him, you would imagine Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno will get a rest and Jon Flanagan and Brad “wand of a left foot” Smith will start. I’ll let you argue over which is actually stronger.
At centre half, I think Steven Caulker makes sense against their massive lads, along with whichever other centre half can walk the best to the ground.
In midfield and attack it gets slightly more interesting.
Kevin Stewart probably deserves another start, but then Lucas didn’t play on Saturday and it seems unlikely Klopp will start both of them, unless he maybe goes for a more defensive base to build on.
As the manager himself said in the press conference yesterday, he has more options now and so we shouldn’t expect quite as young a team. Unlucky for a “young” (22-year-old) player, but if a senior player is available and needs minutes himself, it probably makes more sense.
Emre Can, James Milner and Jordan Henderson don’t seem as quite as in need of a rest as at other points this season, although you imagine at least one of them won’t start tonight. Jordon Ibe will play, which leaves one or two spaces up front.
There have been a few pictures this week of Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke training together looking happy and smiley. Has Klopp asked them to work together or are they just mates?
Klopp has said all three of Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho won’t start as none would last a full match, but Sturridge might be the one he goes for, considering he has been back in training the longest, and he might decide pairing him with Benteke will benefit both in terms of required running and pressing.
Origi and Coutinho being part of the cavalry to come on sounds quite exciting.
— Liverpool FC News (@LivEchoLFC) February 8, 2016
Whoever plays for Liverpool it will be our last trip to Upton Park, a stadium that means a lot to me and my family, but even the casual football fan should be sad to see it go. Another traditional urban stadium lost to a bowl designed for other things. West Ham fans will be wanting to get as many games as possible there before they lock the gates for the final time and will be desperate to get through tonight.
They’ve got decent options they can pick from, too. Andy Carroll, who battered us at Upton Park in the league, returned to the side at the weekend and they also have Dimitri Payet available despite a nasty challenge from yard-dog Victor Wanyama on Saturday. Payet has been doing this to his teammates in training this week.
Dimitri Payet is quite good at football… https://t.co/vvQybWjUgb
— Predict The Six (@PredictTheSix) February 9, 2016
Despite our record against West Ham this season, I fancy the Reds tonight. They’ve got real problems at left back and we’ve got more options than ever up front. Smith to sparkle, Sturridge to sizzle and Benteke to bring it home.
Up the Reds.
Match info: West Ham v Liverpool kicks off at 7:45pm and is live (UK) on BT Sports 2. The winners play Blackburn Rovers away.