Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
Today’s blast from the past features our biggest post-war league victory over this weekend’s opponents, Liverpool. It arrived on the 10th of May 1995, a balmy evening in East London, with West Ham United needing a victory to secure top-flight survival with a game to spare.
After half-an-hour, the Hammers drew first blood. John Moncur slipped a pass to the left foot of Matty Holmes and the diminutive winger drove a shot across David James and into the far corner of the net for his first goal of a fine personal season.
Two goals in a minute around the hour-mark sealed the Irons’ victory and subsequent Premier League survival. Both strikes came from the right foot of ‘Deadly’ Don Hutchison, a player signed from Liverpool earlier that season. Steve Potts made a rare forward foray for Hutchison’s first, the club’s £1.5m record signing collecting the ball and shooting low into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area. Hutchison notched his brace within seconds, expertly controlling a lofted ball from Tim Breacker before stabbing the ball beyond the onrushing James, sending the majority of the 22,446 in attendance into delirium.
Both clubs would next play a significant role in one of the best final days the English top-flight has seen – Liverpool beat Blackburn at Anfield but the Hammers denied Manchester United the title with an incredible performance which handed the title to Rovers. West Ham would end the season, Harry Redknapp’s first in charge, in 14th place.
West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, Tim Breacker, Steve Potts, Marc Rieper, Julian Dicks (Simon Webster), Michael Hughes, John Moncur, Ian Bishop, Matty Holmes, Don Hutchison, Trevor Morley.
Liverpool: David James, Dominic Matteo (Mark Kennedy), John Scales, Phil Babb, Steve Harkness, Michael Thomas, Jamie Redknapp, Nigel Clough, Steve McManaman, John Barnes, Robbie Fowler (Mark Walters).
A whole host of players have turned out for both West Ham United and Liverpool, particularly over the last twenty years. These include Craig Bellamy, Rob Jones, Don Hutchison, Titi Camara, David Burrows, Yossi Benayoun, Joe Cole, Julian Dicks, Paul Ince, Glen Johnson, Robbie Keane, Paul Konchesky, Ray Houghton, Javier Mascherano, Neil Ruddock, David James, Andy Carroll, Mike Marsh and Neil Mellor.
Going further back, 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.
Today’s focus though falls on a player currently in the claret and blue of West Ham United. Stewart Downing was a £20m signing for Liverpool in July 2011 and is currently in fine form for the Hammers. Downing began his career at Middlesbrough, scoring 17 goals in 181 appearances for his hometown club, before moving to Aston Villa for an initial fee of £10m in the summer of 2009. Downing impressed at Villa Park, scoring nine goals in sixty-three appearances, eventually attracting interest from Anfield.
Downing, who currently has thirty-four England caps, scored seven goals in ninety-one matches in all competitions for Liverpool before heading south for The Boleyn Ground in August 2013. He scored his first goal for the club in the last home game of 2013/14, against Tottenham, and scored his second in the first away game of the current campaign at Crystal Palace. Downing had a hand in both goals at Hull City on Monday night and his injury-time cross for Enner Valencia very nearly helped us claim all three points in that fixture.
Saturday’s referee will be Craig Pawson; 2014/15 is Pawson’s third as a Premier League referee. He refereed West Ham’s 4-1 Capital One Cup home defeat to Wigan two seasons ago and our 3-1 loss at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium in March last term (not Hull, as stated on the official club website preview). Pawson is yet to issue a red card in a Premier League match.
West Ham United are unlikely to make many changes from the side that performed encouragingly at Hull on Monday night. Matt Jarvis reportedly remains unavailable while Carl Jenkinson is now challenging Guy Demel for the right-back spot. Playing Jenkinson, just back from injury, against the likes of either Sterling, Lallana or Coutinho may not be a wise move though. Alex Song may start, possibly in place of Mauro Zarate. Since the adjustment of the Premier League’s late kick-off time to 5.30pm in 2008/09, West Ham have not fared well in the Saturday tea-time slot – the Hammers are yet to win a game at this time, drawing two and losing fourteen of sixteen fixtures.
Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge looks set to miss out on the trip to Upton Park. Ex-Hammer Glen Johnson, who has a knack of scoring against us in recent seasons, is doubtful while fellow right-back Jon Flanagan has undergone knee surgery.
Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Noble, Kouyate; Downing, Valencia; Sakho.
Possible Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Manquillo, Sakho, Lovren, Moreno; Henderson, Gerrard; Sterling, Coutinho, Lallana; Balotelli.
Enjoy the game – Up the Hammers!