UPDATE: Yes I do realise I put Nolan in the lineup. I meant Noble. Blame it on a new year brainfade!
There are some difficult selection decisions for Slaven Bilic. Does he bring back Aaron Cresswell? The answer appears to be yes on that one. In midfield does Payet start or will he be on the bench? Assuming Lanzini starts, who makes way? Valencia, Zarate or Antonio? None of them deserve to be dropped, but Lanzini has to start.
I’d say Zarate is the one who may well give way. I think he’s been tremendous this season and he knows where the goal is, but he does have a tendency to be a little too selfish when on the ball and doesn’t seem to know when to pass the ball. I’d drop him rather than Antonio or Valencia because Antonio has done really well and gets better every game, and Valencia needs to play some games to get his confidence back.
If Payet starts, though, as well as Lanzini you could make an argument for Song giving way, rather than Antonio or Valencia.
What lovely problems to have!
You have until 11.30am to enter the Predictor League
Just before Christmas I spoke to Liverpool Fan Antoine Zammit from Reds blog site Empire of the Kop website
Which three teams do you tip for relegation this season?
I hate to do this but things are not looking good for Aston Villa, the other two spots are really up for grabs.
How do you rate Slaven Bilic first season as a manager in the Premier league?
Excellent, I knew he would do well after giving a hard time when we played Besikas last season.
West Ham sit in eighth place at the time of writing after seventeen games having briefly occupied the third spot but what league position can West Ham realistically achieve this season under Bilic?
I think top 6 is realistic.
If you could have any current West Ham player in your team who would you choose?
Andy Carroll (Just kidding), I do rate Diafra Sakho very well.
Do you understand what the ‘West Ham way is’ and what it means to Hammers fans?
Which Liverpool player should we include in our Fantasy dream team?
Which Liverpool player should West Ham players fear on Saturday?
14 Supporters’ Trusts came together to petition the Government for a public inquiry about West Ham’s occupancy of the Olympic Stadium. Does the fact that West Ham got a good deal bother you personally as a football fan?
I personally think that most football fans are more concerned about the prices to attend the games than any good deals the clubs get from the government.
Do you think Jürgen Klopp will survive the season?
Is this a joke??? Of course he hasn’t even signed a single player yet and has already performed a few miracles with what Brendan Rodgers left him.
How do you expect Liverpool to set-up against West Ham on Saturday/Team/formation prediction?
It is hard to try to figure out this early especially given that we play Sunderland just a couple of days before.
West Ham beat Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield earlier this season. What is your score prediction for Saturday?
I hate score predictions but this one will be tough, I go with 1-1
My thanks to Antoine from Empire of the Kop Honestly I would take Antoine’s 1-1 prediction but I am hoping for a tight 1-0 win to complete the double over the Reds. Happy New Year to you all and Come on you irons!. Sean
Andy Carroll 6
Only two goals to show so far in what has to be said has been a disappointing season for the big man. Once again he has been plagued by injury and has made only eleven appearances this season, many of them as a substitute. He’s shown flashes of form, though, and one has to hope that he will improve as he gets more game time. Assuming he stays fit he has got five or six games to cement a starting place before Diafra Sakho returns.
Diafra Sakho 7
Sakho hasn’t quite hit the form he achieved last season, scoring just three times in eleven appearances. His long term injury came just as he seemed to be running into a vein of form, and it would have been nice to see him play alongside Enner Valencia to see if they could replicate the understanding they formed at the beginning of last season. So far in his West Ham career Sakho has hit 17 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions, which is a phenomenal record.
Enner Valencia 6
Having had a very impressive pre-season it was bad luck for Enner Valencia that he got injured in our final Europa League match. Since his return earlier this month he has looked much more impressive than he did in the second half of last season. He seems to be coping with the pace of the Premier League much better and has been unlucky not to hit the net. He needs a good run in the side, but will he get it with Payet and Lanzini returning?
Nikica Jelavic 5
A total disappointment, although it has to be said he has had precious few opportunities to show what he can do, with only one start (against Swansea). But he has looked slow, leggy and totally off the pace. He has an impressive goals to appearances ratio in his career so far, but that’s looking unlikely to improve during his sojourn at Upton Park.
Firstly, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all West Ham Till I Die readers a very Happy New Year!
Blast from the past
Today’s blast from the past features last season’s stunning victory over this weekend’s opponents, Liverpool. It arrived on the 20th of September 2014, a mild late afternoon in east London, with West Ham United welcoming the previous campaign’s runners-up. Calvin Harris was number one with ‘Blame’ and Sam Allardyce’s side were looking for their first home points of 2014/15 after defeats to Tottenham and Southampton.
The Hammers drew first blood within 75 seconds, Stewart Downing’s deep free-kick being headed back across goal by James Tomkins for Winston Reid to nod home. The lead was doubled just five minutes later, Reid winning the ball back on the halfway line to allow Mark Noble to embark on a searching run deep into Liverpool territory. The captain’s pass found Diafra Sakho who chipped for the back post, the ball finding the net before Enner Valencia could get a touch.
The Reds halved the deficit after 26 minutes, Mario Balotelli’s shot was blocked by Aaron Cresswell with the ball breaking for Raheem Sterling to fire home low into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area. Sterling’s strike ensured Liverpool set a new club record of scoring in 17 consecutive away top-flight league matches The score remained the same until the 88th minute, Downing collecting the ball midway inside the Liverpool half before sending a perfectly-weighted pass into the stride of substitute Morgan Amalfitano (pictured), the Frenchman stabbing the ball beyond Simon Mignolet to send the majority of the 34,977 in attendance into delirium.
West Ham would end the season in 12th place while Liverpool finished in 6th. Cresswell was voted Hammer of the Year while Chelsea won the Premier League and Arsenal won the FA Cup.
West Ham United: Adrian, Guy Demel (Carl Jenkinson), James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Alex Song (Morgan Amalfitano), Stewart Downing, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia (James Collins).
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Javi Manquillo (Mamadou Sakho), Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Alberto Moreno, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva (Adam Lallana), Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini (Rickie Lambert).
Andy Carroll welcomes his former club to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. A whole host of players join Carroll in having turned out for both West Ham United and Liverpool, particularly over the last twenty years. These include:
Goalkeepers: Charles Cotton, David James.
Defenders: Rob Jones, David Burrows, Glen Johnson, Paul Konchesky, Neil Ruddock, Thomas Stanley, Rigobert Song.
Midfielders: Don Hutchison, Yossi Benayoun, Joe Cole, Paul Ince, Ray Houghton, Javier Mascherano, Stewart Downing, Mike Marsh.
Strikers: Craig Bellamy, Titi Camara, Robbie Keane, Neil Mellor, Danny Shone, Tom Bradshaw.
George Kay made 237 league appearances for the Hammers between 1919 and 1926, becoming the first-ever player to play more than 200 matches for the club. Kay was also the West Ham captain in the 1923 FA Cup Final. He went on to manage Liverpool between 1936 and 1951, winning the First Division title in 1947.
With a nod to the final season at the Boleyn Ground, this season’s match previews for home games will focus on one of the more high-profile names to have played for both clubs. Today’s focus falls on a player who was one of my childhood heroes, a hard-as-nails but talented left-back with a thunderous shot. Julian Dicks was a £300,000 signing for West Ham United from Birmingham in March 1988 and made his debut at the age of 19 the following month in a 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. Dicks scored his first goal for the Hammers in a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in February 1989 and followed that up with a goal in the 3-0 win over Millwall in April. The Irons were relegated at the end of the 1988/89 campaign and the manager who had signed Dicks, John Lyall, was sacked as a consequence.
Dicks became the club’s penalty-taker in 1989/90 under Lou Macari, his 14 goals going some way to seeing him voted Hammer of the Year as the Hammers adjusted to life in the second tier. He was also sent off in a 1-0 League Cup fourth round home win over Wimbledon, a game which saw an on-pitch brawl between the opposing players with the fighting sparked by a two-footed tackle by Wimbledon’s Dennis Wise on Dicks. With Billy Bonds having taken over the managerial reigns, Dicks suffered a knee injury in October 1990. In a match at Bristol City, Dicks hit a dip on the edge of the pitch, his foot going over the edge resulting in a loss of feeling in his left leg. He played on and was selected by Bonds for the next two games against Swindon and Blackburn although he had to be substituted in both. A knee operation followed which would keep him out for 14 months.
By the time Dicks returned from injury, the Hammers had been promoted but were struggling in the top flight – he scored on his return, a penalty to claim a point in a 1-1 home draw with Sheffield United four days before Christmas 1991. The Hammers would be relegated in 1991/92; ‘The Terminator’ was voted Hammer of the Year for the second time and picked up two caps for the England ‘B’ team. The following season saw Dicks regularly at the centre of controversy – he was sent off three times during 1992/93. The first red card came at Newcastle in August 1992 for elbowing former Hammer Franz Carr, while the second came at Wolves two months later for a skirmish with Paul Birch and Steve Bull. Bonds had to run down the touchline to restrain Dicks from further trouble. Dicks’ third red card of the season came at Derby in January 1993 for two bad tackles on Ted McMinn and there were calls for the left-back to be banned from football permanently. Dicks sat out a number of matches through suspension but still scored 14 goals as the Hammers were promoted at the first time of asking.
Dicks left the Hammers in September 1993 to become Graeme Souness’ last signing for Liverpool in a player-plus-cash deal which was valued at £2.5m. The Hammers received left-back David Burrows and midfielder Mike Marsh from the Anfield club and spent the cash on strikers Lee Chapman and Jeroen Boere. During his first spell at West Ham, Dicks had scored 40 goals in 203 appearances. In the weeks before his departure, a training-ground tackle by Dicks broke the leg of new signing Simon Webster. Dicks scored three goals in 28 appearances for Liverpool and has the honour of scoring the last ever Liverpool goal in front of the old standing Kop, a penalty in a 1-0 win against Ipswich in April 1994. He made his Liverpool debut in the 2-0 Merseyside derby defeat at Goodison Park in September 1993 and his first goal for the Reds was a long-range stunner at Oldham in a 3-0 win in January 1994.
After being isolated by new Liverpool manager Roy Evans, Dicks returned to east London to sign for Harry Redknapp in October 1994. Now sporting a shaven head, the left-back made his second debut for the club in the 2-0 home triumph over Southampton and scored his first goal since returning in a 1-0 home victory over Leicester the following month. Dicks helped the Hammers avoid relegation to ensure a successful first season back at the Boleyn.
Dicks was superb the following season as the Hammers claimed a top-ten finish in 1995/96 – he even went in goal for more than half the match after Ludek Miklosko was sent off in the 3-0 defeat at Everton. He was again named Hammer of the Year but two controversial incidents at the start of the season – an alleged stamp on the head of Chelsea’s John Spencer (an allegation Dicks denies to this day) and a red card at Arsenal – played their part in ensuring Dicks was denied an England call-up in the build-up to Euro ’96.
Dicks was voted Hammer of the Year for a fourth time in 1996/97 as he played a significant role in ensuring the Hammers survived in the Premier League for another season, his two-goal salvo in a 4-3 win over Tottenham proving particularly inspirational while a penalty fired beyond Peter Schmeichel rescued a point in a 2-2 draw against champions Man Utd. Dicks’ season was ended in March 1997 by another knee injury and this was to keep him out of the entire 1997/98 campaign. He made his return after 18 months out in a 1-0 League Cup second round second leg win over Northampton at the Boleyn Ground but the Hammers were knocked out 2-1 on aggregate. He scored his final goal for the club in January 1999 at home against Swansea to earn an FA Cup third round replay which the Hammers went on to lose at the Vetch Field. His final appearance for the Hammers came in a 4-0 home defeat to Arsenal in February 1999. Over both spells with the Irons, Dicks scored 65 goals in 326 appearances in all competitions – a penalty king, he scored 35 of his spot-kicks while failing to convert just four. He announced his retirement at the age of 30 after eight operations on his left knee.
Dicks tried to come to terms with life outside football as he told Four Four Two: “When I quit West Ham I had enough money in the bank to never work again. Then, in 2001, I got divorced and my wife took it all. We’d set up professional kennels and were looking after other people’s dogs. I had 13 of them at one time and two young girls and there was never any problem. When the wife left she took the dogs too.” Dicks made an attempt at a new career playing golf but had to quit that sport as well due to the problems with his knees. He made a brief return to football in 2001 when he signed for non-league Canvey Island but only made four appearances for the Essex club.
Dicks became a publican in Langham, Essex for a while before moving to Spain but returned to the non-league scene in January 2009 when he was appointed manager of Wivenhoe Town. Dicks steered the club away from relegation but left at the end of the season. He became manager of Conference club Grays Athletic in September 2009; the club were relegated in his first season and Dicks and Grays parted ways at the end of the 2010/11 season. He is now back with the Hammers, where he managed the Ladies team in 2014/15 and was then appointed First Team Coaching Assistant under new manager Slaven Bilic last summer.
Saturday’s referee will be Bobby Madley. The Yorkshire-based official will take charge of a West Ham game for the second time in the Premier League, having refereed our 2-1 win at Manchester City in September. Madley was also the man in the middle who awarded the Hammers two penalties as we knocked Burnley out of the League Cup two seasons ago. Matt Taylor and Jack Collison converted one spot-kick each in a 2-0 win at Turf Moor, while Keith Treacy was sent off for the hosts for his involvement in the second penalty incident. Madley, who is 30 years old, first refereed in the Premier League in April 2013.
West Ham United could recall Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll to the starting XI after positive performances from both players ensured a second-half turnaround against Southampton on Monday. Dimitri Payet has been back in training and could make the bench, while Winston Reid and Victor Moses are likely to be held back until at least the FA Cup tie with Wolves next week. Aaron Cresswell could return, most likely in place of Carl Jenkinson.
Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge could claim a place on the bench for the trip to Upton Park. Jon Flanagan, Martin Skrtel, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ings and Divock Origi are out but Joe Allen may make the squad.
Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Tomkins, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Kouyate, Noble; Valencia, Lanzini, Antonio; Carroll.
Possible Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Sakho, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Lucas; Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana; Benteke.