In a season chock full of fun narratives, one of the more conspiratorial is the enduring theory of a cadre of Liverpool sleeper cells infiltrating other teams and taking points off the club’s rivals in order to give Liverpool a better chance at winning the title. Underground resistance fighters Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi have done their bit to deprive Chelsea of points this season, and now it is time for the club’s biggest sleeper cell to awaken in east London.
Former Reds Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, and perhaps even a winded Joe Cole — not to mention boyhood Red and eternal Scouser Kevin Nolan — have a chance to complete the league-wide sabotage when West Ham United face Manchester City on Sunday. City sit two points ahead of Liverpool in the table, and a Liverpool win against Newcastle coupled with a City loss to West Ham is what will be required for Liverpool to win the league for the first time in nearly a quarter century.
It’s a tall order for West Ham to go and get such a magnificent result at the Etihad, but Lucas Leiva hopes encouragement from former teammates will help West Ham do the job.
"We will be in touch with them [Carroll and Downing] before Sunday, of course," Lucas confirmed. "They have been here with us, they have worked with us and I'm sure they will do their best to get points for West Ham first of all and if they can help us too. But it's not in our hands anymore."
It hasn’t been in Liverpool’s hands since the loss to Chelsea, and Liverpool would do well to avoid complacency against Newcastle. Ahead of both matches Brendan Rodgers, in another moment of not-sure-if-trolling, seemed confident that West Ham can cause some trouble for Manchester City.
"[The title race is] certainly not over,” Rodgers said. “We know it is a tough game for us. For City, West Ham have some talented players and, if they can go to Tottenham and win 3-0, then they can certainly go to City and win.
"They've got Big Andy up front and they can cause real problems. The expectancy is City will win but it won't be easy for them. West Ham know they have the players who can cause problems."
Sure, why not. There’s one game left in the season, and no sense in not buying into blind optimism at this point. With the good will Liverpool have received from rival fans and players around the league, it does really seem like West Ham have an extra bit of incentive in a match that doesn’t mean anything to their season. Kevin Nolan allegedly said he’d take a red card if it would help win Liverpool the title — one might reasonably wonder how giving City a one man advantage accomplishes this — and of course Andy Carroll has been an incredibly vocal supporter of his former club.
We were unlucky not to get something today against this seasons champions— Andy Carroll (@AndyTCarroll) April 6, 2014
My sister — she of WE’RE GONNA WIN!!!! fame — used to predict a hat trick for Carroll ahead of every Liverpool match. She never got her hat trick, but remains super optimistic that if Carroll was ever going to do it, this is the game. We’re all behind you, Andy, and we know you’re behind us.
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