Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and Blowing Bubbles
Blowing Bubbles has a simple aim of informing, entertaining and uniting West Ham fans across the globe. Edited by a team of journalists, our easy-to-read, well-designed and professional magazine has come out every month since August 2012 packed with interviews, features and opinions. Our magazine is available to read on PC, Mac, iPhone and Android mobile phones, and all tablets. As well as the thousands of people who take advantage of our online offering, we have a substantial number of subscribers in the UK, Europe and around the world who have every issue of Blowing Bubbles posted through their door. We’re also getting used to selling outside London Stadium — a stark contrast to the streets around Upton Park!
The Hammers are without a win in five and sit just above the relegation zone at this stage, are fans particularly unhappy with the way things are going?
Of course we are. I’d imagine most fans would be if they’d witnessed their side have a season like we did last campaign followed by what we’ve endured so far this season. There is a real sinking feeling among fans at the moment that we will be sucked into a relegation battle — and I’ve already heard the worrying statement “It’s OK, we’re too good to go down” on a number of occasions. I don’t believe we are in a relegation scrap just yet. Sure we’re at the bottom but with games coming up against Burnley, Hull, Swansea and Leicester, December will define our season. Get 10 points, we’ll be fine. Get anything under seven and I’ll start to prepare myself for the upcoming struggles and battles.
Injuries have played a large role in that recent form, with around eight first team players currently out of action, do you think it’s just a matter of time until your luck turns around?
I firmly believe after our usual defeat at Anfield (aside from last season’s wonderful win), our luck will change with players due back soon — or currently back but in need of match fitness. There is no doubt in my mind that the injuries have been a huge factor in our form. The players coming in — many of whom were signed in the summer — also haven’t been able to reach the same level as those injured, or any professional standard of football for that matter! Another factor has been us not being able to perform for 90 minutes. We keep switching off at key moments — most notably towards the end of games. We’re also being heavily punished for mistakes that we were getting away with last season. There has been a lot of ‘shoulda woulda coulda’ recently and a lot of “in hindsight” which is all well and good but this doesn’t retain your Premier League status! I think if we can get through December and collect 10 or more points, our luck will certainly start to feel like it’s changing for the better.
Slaven Bilic looked a great appointment last season but looks to have lost his way to some extent, are fans convinced he’s still the right man for the job?
Some are, some aren’t. There certainly isn’t the divide among fans as there was with Sam Allardyce. There have been growing calls for Bilic to go in recent weeks but I firmly believe he is the right man for us. Who else would we bring in? Who else has the same passion for West Ham? He loves this club. You can tell he is a man under immense pressure and there have been a lot of things that have gone against him this season. The team will come good, I’m convinced of it, and with it Bilic will continue to be seen as the right man to keep leading us.
Having just won one away game this season are supporters fearing the worst heading into this weekend’s clash?
Yes. Last season was an incredible day for us. Having not won at Anfield in so long, and then to do it in such style, was amazing. I’m not sure what it is about us playing in Liverpool — we don’t fare particularly well at Everton either. Regardless of how we’re playing, most fans don’t expect much from a trip to Anfield. I think one of two things will happen; we will concede early and then the floodgates will open or it’ll be an open and free-scoring game. I could see a 4-4 draw! We’re set up to be attacked and hit teams on the counter but this season we’ve been shown a lot of respect by teams and we have really struggled in possession. Like England in the Euros, teams have been giving us the ball and challenging us to break them down and we appear to have no idea.
Dimitri Payet remains one of the obvious standout players for West Ham, is there anybody else who Liverpool should be looking out for?
Manuel Lanzini. He is arguably better than Payet for his involvement throughout games. For me, Payet goes missing all too often but steals the headlines with one moment of magic. Him and Lanzini work very well together. Lanzini loves to be on the ball, his movement is fantastic and he really makes things happen at the top end of the pitch for us. Michail Antonio is another player who makes things happen out of nothing — so long as he isn’t playing right back! And, when fit, there is Andy Carroll but you already know about him…
What have you made of Jürgen Klopp’s side, based on what you’ve seen, this season?
Bournemouth collapse aside, I’ve been impressed. From the outside, it looks like the players have bought into Klopp and his ideas. He has benefited from having been with the players since October 2015 and was almost given from then to the end of the season to get things working the way he wanted, before things ramped up for this season. Fortunately, he was able to get results along the way so the pressure was off and now you are benefiting from this extended bedding in time. I don’t consider you title contenders for this season but I’d certainly place you in the top four from what I’ve seen.
Where do you expect both teams to finish at the end of this campaign?
Fourth for Liverpool, and I’d take 16th right now if offered to me. It’s so difficult to predict where we will finish right now. If we have a good December, perhaps mid-table. If we don’t, it could be a tough few months for us and we’ll feel like we are constantly looking over our shoulders — if we’re left too far behind and feel like we are chasing!
Finally, can we have a score prediction for Sunday’s game?
I know I mentioned 4-4 above but, right now, I’m feeling a 2-2.
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