West Ham V Liverpool: Then and now

With Liverpool’s visit to Upton Park, Blowing Bubbles writer Thomas Johnson looks back at our starting line-up the last time we played the Reds and compares these players to our likely starting XI on Sunday

Forwards:

Frederic Piquionne & Demba Ba: Piquionne actually enjoyed a quite successful start to the season, but the goals soon dried up and since Grant left he has barely played a game. Ba was a frustrating issue as his goals were one last thing to enjoy in the Premier League of that torrid season but to see him jump ship, was tough. Especially as he went on to play so well for Newcastle.

Andy Carroll & Modibo Maiga: Andy finally scored his first claret and blue goal against Spurs after eight impressive performances. We will see even more of the Andy and Kevin Nolan partnership come to fruition over the course of the season. Maiga hasn’t fully come to terms with the English game, despite a stunning strike against Southampton. He is struggling to stamp his foot down and give Allardyce a reason not to pick him but he is likely to be a slow burner and will come to be a top player in years to come.

Midfield:

Both Noble and O’Neil played then and now

Scott Parker and Thomas Hitzlsperger: Parker was the shining light of the season under Avram, putting in a superb performance against Liverpool capping it off with a beautiful poking finish. Scott Parker put in 110pc effort when wearing the claret and blue. Der Hammer, Thomas Hitzlsperger, was a disappointment over the season, suffering an injury playing for Germany that kept him out from August until February and never fully getting into his stride. If he had been fully fit we would have seen his qualities but it was not to be unfortunately.

Kevin Nolan & Mo Diame: Super captain Nolan. A true leader, who proudly wears the armbands and encourages his fellow players to perform to the highest of their capabilities. While he has a knack for popping up with a goal, he is Allardyce’s leader of men. In Mo Diame, we don’t just have a Senegalese tank but also someone who enjoys rampaging runs like Yaya Toure. Diame can keep the ball at his feet whilst running at brilliant pace for 70 yards and enjoys a blasting shot or two and has been a terrific free signing.

Centre-Backs:

James Tomkins played both then and now.

Matthew Upson: In all honesty, our then captain was a coward, leaving others to pick up the pieces and only stayed at West Ham because he was on ridiculous wages that nobody would offer him elsewhere. Upson possibly played two or three games for West Ham where he actually looked like he cared about the club, other times he would be the first to blame others for his mistakes.

Winston Reid: The Kiwi has come on in leaps and bounds over the course of his two and a bit seasons at the club. He has become the first defender’s name on the team-sheet and leads by true example, putting his body on the line and at the relatively young-age of 24, it would be excellent to tie Winston to the club for another few years. With the help of Allardyce, Reid has become a top defender.

Full Backs:

Wayne Bridge & Lars Jacobsen: A pair only likely to be assembled by our manager at the time Avram Grant, some saw Bridge’s arrival on loan from January as a coup but the games he played showed no sign of such a thing, being thrown into what can only be called a baptism of fire on his debut against the pace of Arsenal’s Theo Walcott. Lars Jacobsen neither pulled up trees with amazing performances nor made dreadful mistakes, in a typically conservative way he went about his business but was probably not at the level of quality needed to survive the Premier League at the age of 30.

George McCartney & Joey O’Brien: In George McCartney we have stability at the leftback position, though some have concerns over his injury risks and his pace. On his day the Northern Irish full back will show his attacking abilities and some last-ditch defending thrown in as well. He’s not the greatest defender but he can certainly be proud of his overall performances in his second stint at West Ham. In Joey O’Brien, we have a right-back who will put everything in for the team, in no small part by scoring the equaliser against Stoke City and grabbing the assist for Andy Carroll’s goal against Tottenham.

Goalkeepers

Robert Green: The England international spent six years in goal for West Ham and seemed to be a fairly popular figure, with fans sticking up for him after his blunder in goal for England against USA in the World Cup. But some fans saw his frailties at corners and distribution a hindrance to the team’s performance particularly against the more physical sides like Stoke or Blackburn.

Jussi Jääskeläinen: The veteran Finn arrived in the summer following his release from Bolton Wanderers, some fans were sceptical about the 37 year-olds capabilities to perform at the top level. But many have been pleasantly surprised with Jussi’s performances, keeping five clean sheets from 13 games. With only a year or two left in him, we must look to a young goalkeeper at some point in the future, with Henderson the likely choice.

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