Gerrard and Suarez back for Reds v Hammers

Liverpool take on West Ham United at Upton Park (or the Boleyn Ground if you prefer) this afternoon and Kenny Dalglish has been able to pick a strong starting line-up.

Luis Suarez was missing in the midweek win over Sparta Prague because he was cup tied – he’s back today to much excitement from Reds supporters who’ve quickly taken to the new signing. And also back today is the captain, Steven Gerrard, a player whose importance to the Reds should never be taken for granted.

Dirk Kuyt got the winning goal on Thursday, he starts today and is likely to do so as the strike partner to Suarez in what looks set to be a 5-3-2 formation, with Gerrard likely to be one of a midfield trio that also includes Lucas Leiva and Raul Mereiles.

At the back the side is expected to line up with three centre-backs, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel likely to be partnered by either Martin Kelly or Danny Wilson. Although Kelly and Wilson have both played as full backs for the first team this season, they are seen as centre-backs in the long term. Glen Johnson will play as a wing-back – on the left if Kelly is the right wing-back or on the right if – as is most likely – Wilson starts outside the back three.

In the goal for the Reds is the inspirational Pepe Reina, enjoying life at Anfield again under Kenny and his recent clean sheets record showing just how important he is to the Reds.

West Ham are right at the bottom of the table but that doesn’t mean this game is a foregone conclusion. Liverpool have to concentrate against a side that will be battling for a win that would give them a massive morale boost and would also move them up a place.

A win for the Reds would open up some daylight between their current 6th place and Bolton in 7th; it would also put them five points off the Champions League places, albeit with 4th-placed Spurs having a game in hand after this fixture.

West Ham United: Green, Jacobsen, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge, O’Neil, Noble, Parker, Hitzlsperger, Ba, Piquionne
Subs: Boffin, Reid, Da Costa, Boa Morte, Spector, Cole, Hines

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Wilson, Johnson, Leiva, Meireles, Gerrard, Kuyt, Suarez
Subs: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Poulsen, Maxi, Cole, Ngog