1. I've Got A Bad Feeling About This....
There has been altogether too much optimism flying around about our visit to Liverpool this week. It's known as fate, my friends. We play Liverpool in one of the all time great cup finals. We lose on penalties but win the admiration of Scousers everywhere because we were, like, you know, the better team. Great. Fast forward a couple of months and we are scheduled to play them in their opening home fixture where they get to parade the aforementioned trophy around before the match. Splendid.
Combine that with the fact that our last victory at Anfield came a couple of weeks after Agincourt, and that Liverpool haven't lost a home game in 10 months and I'd say you have a recipe for, what we in the trade like to call, a shellacking.
2. Things To Be Positive About
I'm sorry, were you talking to me?
3. Things To Be Worried About
We were fairly insipid away from home last year against the top 4 teams. Defeats at Chelski, Man Utd and Liverpool came at a combined scoreline of 1-7 and whilst the 3-2 win at Highbury was undeniably orgasmic it doesn't counter the fact that we, like the rest of the Premiership are quite a distance from the Champions League teams. Indeed, we didn't beat Liverpool in any of the 3 games we played against them last year.
Have I mentioned we don't win at Anfield all that frequently? Specifically, that would be Halley's Comet type frequency. The last West Ham player to score a winning goal at Anfield was Sir Geoff Hurst in 1963. And any time you've got a Knight of the Realm appearing in your stats, someone, somewhere, hasn't done their job properly.
Liverpool also hold an ever so slight edge over us when one looks at the overall record between the two teams. And by slight edge I'm talking "German Army over French Army in 1941" sort of edge.
In 98 games between the 2 sides, we have won 20. Right-o.
4. The Gerrard Problem
The most criminal of the myriad offences committed by Sven Goran Eriksson was his misuse of Steven Gerrard (I'm putting that just ahead of giving an England cap to cereal box competition winner Gavin McCann).
Liverpool appear to have built their team around Gerrard, playing him in a nominal wide right position, which in truth appears to be a free role designed to allow him to influence games from anywhere on the pitch. For England, meanwhile, he seemed to play in a position I would best characterize as "Doing Lampard's running for him". Rafael Benitez is a better manager than Sven Goran Eriksson. Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is a better manager than Sven Goran Eriksson.
No doubt much of Pardew's preparations this week will be around who should mark the Scouse captain. My initial suggestion would be the VII Armoured Corps. Failing that - use Kryptonite.
Either way I'm thinking it might not be a job for Yossi Benayoun.
5. OK - Glimmers of Hope
Liverpool are expected to start their new signing Dirk Kuyt. Whilst I appreciate Newtons (Isaac, not Shaun) Immutable Law of Debutant Goalscorers applies here, I did happen to watch Kuyt fairly closely in the World Cup and he made Kevin Davies look like a clinical, cold blooded assassin.
Paul Konchesky scored in his last game against Liverpool. So did Dean Ash - awwwwww bugger.
Lee Bowyer has as many red cards as he does goals in his career against The Reds (2). Our other top scorers against them - Sheringham and Konchesky, also with 2 each. Can I suggest the merits of a lie in tomorrow?
They are missing a few players - namely Riise, Carragher, Sissoko and Stephen Warnock. Harry Kewell is also out which is a negative for us and Warnock not playing is a bit like like a tank not having windscreen wipers.
6. Take Cole to Liverpool
Carlton Cole is now down to an average of 1 measly goal per 12 minutes played. This will (WILL) equate to 7 goals at Liverpool.
7. Say What? The Poor Man's Djimi Traore!
Reading some comments on the BBC 6-0-6 website I saw new Liverpool centre back Daniel Agger referred to as the above by a Scouse fan. Just how bad do you have to be get that nickname? Is he legally blind? Does he have one leg? Is he Michael Dawson? Blimey - note to Pards - "Target the Dane".
8. I Feel A Bit Sicily
I couldn't let the occasion pass without comment. We will play Palermo in the UEFA Cup 1st Round. Leaving aside for a moment the Pythagorean calculation required in order to seed Newcastle and Blackburn, but not West Ham or tottenham - what a great feeling.
I am extremely excited about watching us not keep clean sheets in mainland Europe as well as our own fair isle.........