Attack key for Liverpool visit

On 30 January 2007, West Ham United lost 2-1 against Liverpool at the Boleyn Ground to leave themselves deep in relegation trouble with just 20 points from 25 games.

Fast forward exactly 12 months and the situation could not be more different for Alan Curbishley's side as they prepare to welcome the Reds again. With 33 points from three fewer games played than at this time a year ago, the team are looking upwards from a healthy tenth position and with every hope of moving to within four points of their opponents.

Curbishley remembers that night under the lights as "such a poor performance" - but is not expecting a repeat, despite the fact Liverpool are again pushing for the Champions League places. He said: "We've got another opportunity against a top-four side. I'm sure if we attack it right we'll give ourselves a chance. We're really looking forward to it."

The Hammers have not won in their last eleven matches with Liverpool but Curbishley simply sees that as an opportunity to set the record straight. "We'll have to try and change it. We've competed so far this year in all the games we've played against the 'top four'. They've been tight games. We've got to give ourselves a chance and give the fans something to get behind because that makes a big difference."

The manager has Dean Ashton available again after a slight back problem but it remains to be seen whether he will again go with Carlton Cole as a lone striker, as in previous matches against elite clubs. "Sometimes it depends on who's available. We're looking at the game and we feel that we've got to get on the front foot, try and make the atmosphere right and attack it as much as we can."

Curbishley said the Reds' rotation policy makes it hard to predict their lineup, but added: "They'll have the same problem with us though - ours has changed most weeks. They have changed it a bit as they've gone along but the nucleus of the side is there. They're in a situation where they're drawn too many games.

"I don't know if they could have won some of them but they've drawn too many to make a challenge for the top two," he added, before going on to cite the impressive trophy haul achieved by Rafael Benitez that has included the 2005 Champions League. "I think for Rafa, who had only been there a few years, it takes time. Whatever we say about the Premier League - they perhaps haven't won it but they've won everything else. We shouldn't forget that."