Seven full days feels like an awfully long time to have to wait for another match, but when the previous offering was so wonderful, we were at least able to pass the week with the random giggle about Liverpool going top with as comprehensive a victory as they've had all season. Six days gone and six matches left to play, and Liverpool control their own destiny.
West Ham are likewise in control of their own destiny, albeit further down the table--they've mostly secured their survival with two crucial wins from their last two; the first was notable for the manner in which it was produced, a drab 2-1 victory that saw Sam Allardyce's side booed off the pitch after the final whistle, and the second was a mildly more impressive win against a stuttering Sunderland side on Monday. They're not yet safe mathematically, but with eleven points between them and Cardiff in 18th (and 12 between them and Sunderland, who have two games in hand), Premier League football is all but assured for the 2014-2015 season.
Allardyce will be without defender George McCartney, but Kevin Nolan is ready after a back injury on Monday to give West Ham a nearly full-strength side. The starting eleven has been nearly identical starting lineups in the last two, with Adrian in goal, Winston Reid, McCartney--who was replaced by Pablo Armero against Sunderland--James Tomkins, and Guy Demel at the back, Matthew Taylor and Mohamed Diame in central midfield, and Stewart Downing, Nolan, and Mark Noble providing support for Andy Carroll up top.
Johnson Skrtel Sakho Flanagan
The squad continues to remain mostly healthy; Jose Enrique looks increasingly likely to miss the rest of the season, but he's the only injury worry at the present time. The good news extends all the way to Uruguay, where Sebastian Coates is close to match fitness while on loan at Nacional. Never forget.
At some point we're going to see Mamadou Sakho back into the eleven, and tomorrow's match makes as much sense as any other. West Ham's gonna West Ham, which means Liverpool will have to be strong in the air and capable of dealing with long ball after long ball. Daniel Agger's been no slouch but seems most likely to come out if Sakho does come in, while Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan look set to continue at fullback.
The biggest question in the front six continues to be which two of Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling, and Philippe Coutinho start. Tomorrow poses a far different task than Spurs at Anfield, and it might signal a return to the diamond midfield with Allen on the left and one of Sterling or Coutinho at the point. Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson are locks, and while there's an outside shot that Lucas gets his first start in months, I'll guess that Sterling gets the call again after one of his best performances of the season on Sunday.
Then there's the two up front. That doesn't change even if it does, as Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will continue their soloists' duet at the top, hopefully to the type of effect we've become accustomed to seeing.
Kickoff is set for 4:00PM BST/11:00AM EST, with Sky Sports 1 carrying coverage in the UK and
NBCSN CNBC/NBC Sports Live Extra airing the match live in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.