West Ham v Liverpool
Barclays Premier League
19th Sept 2009
Kick Off : 17:30
Ground : Upton Park
Wednesday night was a game of records, our 1-0 victory over Debrecen saw the Reds record our 100th triumph in European Premier competition, Rafa’s 300th game in charge of Liverpool while Dirk Kuyt scored his 12th goal in 35 Champions League games for Liverpool becoming the club’s third highest ever scorer in the competition.
However, it’s Yossi Benayoun who has earned rave reviews over the past few days following his man of the match display against Burnley and his impressive display against Debrecen. This season Benayoun will become integral to the Reds challenge for the title which was clearly evident last weekend when he emphatically brushed aside Burnley. Benayoun opened the scoring before the break and went on to complete his hat-trick in the second half with two goals in front of the Kop – a special way to grab his third hat-trick for the club to sit alongside his trebles against Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup and against Besiktas in the Champions League.
The last time an Israeli scored a league hat-trick for Liverpool, we won the title. Back during the 1990 season, Rosenthal was integral to the Reds last League title win in 1990 scoring 7 goals in 8 matches including his fondly remembered hat-trick against Charlton when he became the first Liverpool player to achieve such a feat on his full debut at Charlton Athletic in April 1990 since Bobby Graham in 1964.
TIA Columnist, Neale Graham’s recent article following our victory over Stoke, spoke of Benayoun’s importance in unlocking opponents defences:
“In Yossi Benayoun Liverpool could well have the answer to unlocking teams. Drifting off either flank, he has the ability to beat a man, knows when to keep the ball and play the killer pass. Add in his ability to get on the end of things and score important goals and the Israeli is a genuine star. Underrated while at West Ham and discounted in his first season at Anfield, Benayoun has added consistency to his undoubted talent and sharp football brain.”
Looking at the Guardian’s Chalkboards following last Saturdays Burnley game, we see Yossi’s impressive man of the match display, his creative passing, his vision and his clever movement as he drifted inside from the right exposing the gaping holes in Burnley‘s rearguard.
Saturday afternoon sees Benayoun return to his former old club West Ham when Liverpool take on West Ham at Upton Park. Liverpool have won eight and lost only one of their last 10 Premier League games against the Hammers. Benitez will be hoping for a repeat performance of last season’s clash when Steven Gerrard’s first-half double and a late tap-in from substitute Ryan Babel secured a 3-0 win for the Reds.
Liverpool Team News
Both Mascherano and Aurelio will be pushing for a place in the starting 11, they made late substitute appearances against Debrecen. Alberto Aquilani and Nabil El Zahr remain sidelined through injury whilst Ryan Babel’s recall to the squad on Wednesday could also see him make a claim for a first team start.
Behind the defence will be the ever reliable Pepe Reina, the back four should be Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Jamie Carragher and i’m expecting Emiliano Insua to keep his left back place ahead of Fabio Aurelio. Insua has played every minute of our Premier League campaign so far, one of only three players to play every minute and like Johnson, he’s added a new dimension to Liverpool’s attack, he’s became a potent threat on the left, he’s good on the ball, a reliable passer, gets to the byline and gives the team genuine width, however, I personally feel he needs to work more on his crossing and be more consistent with his final delivery. Still only 20 years old, Insua has been impressive this season cementing his place in Benitez’s starting eleven.
I’m expecting Mascherano to return to the starting eleven alongside Lucas, with Kuyt on the right and Benayoun replacing Riera on the left. Gerrard and Torres who have scored 5 goals between them already in the Premiership will form the attacking front line for the Reds.
Liverpool Top Goalscorers
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West Ham Team Prediction
West ham have played four games so far this season. They’ve lost one, drawn 2 and only won one game when they beat Wolves 2-0 on the opening day of the season. Zola’s team have also struggled to score goals only recording just three goals in the Premier League so far.
Gianfranco Zola has done a wonderful job down at Upton Park, building a strong side around the experienced spine of Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole. New signing Guillermo Franco is unlikely to feature having only signed for West Ham this week, the 32-year-old Mexican joined the Hammers on a free transfer following the expiry of his contract with Spanish side Villarreal this summer.
Zola has a number of injuries; Dean Ashton, Herita Ilunga (cheekbone injury) and and Luis Boa Morte (Knee problem) are out for West Ham. James Tomkins is likely to keep his place in defence due to Ilunga injury, Alessandro Diamanti may make his full debut, while Jack Collison (calf) and Kieron Dyer (hamstring) could return.
Valon Behrami is pushing for a recall after making his return from a long-term injury as a substitute in last weekend’s defeat to Wigan while Alessandro Diamanti will also be looking to break into the starting eleven after his impressive display against Wigan last weekend.
My West Ham Team Prediction :
Green, Faubert, Upson, Gabbidon, Tomkins, Noble, Parker, Kovac, Stanislas, Cole, Hines.
Match Officials :
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant Referees: Mike Mullarkey and Adam Watts
Fourth Official: Peter Walton
Last Five Meetings :
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Liverpool have won six of their last seven Premier League away matches while West Ham have lost three of their last four home matches including the 0-3 defeat to Liverpool at the tail end of last season. Liverpool also have 52 shots on target this season, more than any other team in the Premier League, but they face Robert Green who has the best save percentage record in the Premier League, saving 87% of on-target efforts by the opposition! I believe it will be a tight game with Liverpool narrowly edging the tie 1-0 with Benayoun scoring the only goal of the game against his former club!
Redkopi – The Eye of the Red Kop