Opposition Q & A
Our final match before the enforced break (don’t you just hate International weeks?) sees us take on Liverpool at The London Stadium kicking off on Saturday at 5.30pm. Ahead of the game I had a chat with Duncan Oldham of koptalk to discuss everything Claret & Blue and Red.
You have got us in the tea-time fixture this Saturday, hopefully you’ll be a bit tired after your midweek game – are you feeling confident?
It’s difficult to be confident following Liverpool these days due to our well documented defensive problems. We come into the game off the back of that Champions League win over minnows Maribor but that scoreline doesn’t really prove anything. It honestly depends as to which Liverpool turns up. It looks like both sides will have injury problems to deal with. I think most neutrals would expect Liverpool to come away with something but honestly, nothing would surprise me at the moment.
Jurgen Klopp is now into his third season at Anfield (similar to Slaven Bilic) are you happy with the progress that he has shown? How do you compare his reign to the days of Brendan Rodgers?
The statistics appear to show that there isn’t a huge difference between them both but we have to remember that Brendan had Luis Suarez at his disposal. I don’t see a lot difference in the way their teams play. Both managers presented attacking football but neither manager sorted the defence out. Klopp’s failure to consider another centre-back other than Virgil van Dijk and his insistance that he didn’t need a clinical striker recruiting in the summer left me completely baffled. Despite the present frustrations, I feel that Klopp will adapt to the Premier League. Some of his decisions have been confusing and I’m disappointed that he haven’t seen some gems brought in from Germany but that’s not necessarily his fault.
After successively finishing in a Champions League spot last season, where do you think Liverpool will stand at the end of this campaign?
Based on current form, we would struggle to finish 4th. If we can get a result against you and built on that it will hopefully make things easier. If we lose at the weekend and continue to underperform, there could be a huge inquest at the end of the season. We expect much better than what we’ve being seeing of late.
Where do you think West Ham can realistically finish the season?
Surely finishing just inside the top half of the table or just below the fold is possible but I can’t see that happening under Bilic. A lot of faith has been shown in him but are West Ham wasting crucial time by standing by him?
Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
Swansea, Huddersfield, Palace to go down. Manchester City to win the title.
We’ve spoken about Jurgen Klopp, how do you rate West Ham’s Slaven Bilic?
I thought he was going to do much better. He just looks lost at times. He seems like a nice enough guy but I think he’s a dead man walking which isn’t nice to see. As an outsider looking in, the players come across as not giving their all for him. You’re better placed than me to know why that may be if that’s the case. If he’s lost the dressing room, the trigger needs pulling. He looks authoritative but I’m not convinced.
You must be a tad annoyed with all the speculation regarding Philippe Coutinho, are you resigned to him leaving you come January? Have you come to terms with this new reality of Liverpool not being the premier destination for talent it was in the past?
It’s understandable. Who wouldn’t want to play for Barcelona? As long as he conducts himself professionally and does the business until he’s sold, that’s all the fans want to see. I’m not sure if he will leave in January but he won’t be at Anfield next season. I just can’t see it. Even if Barcelona ended their interest, PSG are very keen too and his pal Neymar is there.
While London is an attractive destination for players and their partners, Manchester City and Manchester United continue to attract some of the best names. Our owners cannot compete with the Premier League’s successful and wealthier clubs. Until there is a shift in ownership I cannot see us ever being able to compete properly again.
There seems to be a great deal of unrest as to the performance of the goalkeeper and defence in general – are you happy with the make-up of your squad?
Our goalkeepers aren’t good enough, our centre-backs are not good enough, our midfield can attack but not defend and we don’t have a clinical striker at the club. We need a new spine. The arrival of Naby Keïta can’t come quick enough but even if we land Virgil van Dijk to strengthen the defence, that’s not going to be enough to solve our problems.
West Ham fans have great memories of finally beating you at Anfield two years ago: apart from that woeful day at the FA Cup Final in Cardiff, do any particular memories of West Ham/Liverpool games of the past come to mind?
?It was a great day! But what about our 4-1 win over you in December 2013. It felt nice to silence Allardyce. Sorry.
If you could have any current West Ham player in your first team who would you choose and why?
?I feel tempted to say Joe Hart as our ‘keepers don’t offer much but I quite like Manuel Lanzini.
Which Liverpool player(s) will be key to your hopes this season? Apart from Coutinho, who in your current squad would stand comparison with the great Liverpool players of the past?
None of them are currently good enough to be in any of the successful Liverpool sides I grew up watching. Coutinho stands out (just like Sterling did) as he doesn’t have a lot of greatness around him. Salah’s performances have been very encouraging. Where would we be without his goals? Mane is a great player too.
How do you expect Liverpool to setup against West Ham on Saturday/ Team/formation prediction?
Expect to see a 4-3-3 as usual. We have a few injuries so it would be too complicated to list the various permutations as I’m not sure who will be deemed fit just yet. I doubt there’ll be any surprises.
Prediction for score?
I hate predictions as I regret them if I don’t put money on them and they come off! I’m going for a Liverpool win though!
Big up! to Duncan for his time. This is a hard one to call. Our overall win record against Liverpool is a mere 20%, rising to 36% at our place. My heart says a win, with Big Andy coming off the bench to power the ball home, unfortunately my head sees us spurning a hard fought victory by giving away a last minute penalty. 1 – 1. Come on you Irons!