|Photograph: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images|
You can't help thinking that, impressive as Liverpool have been this season, some of their supporters are setting themselves up for a fall, as they chase their first league title since football was invented, such is their glee at their current position. Hubris is sweeping Merseyside like hot cakes (or something), and in some respects you can hardly blame these success-starved Scousers getting a little giddy about the whole thing, especially with the lads down the road in such a frightful mess, but you wonder if some of their more excitable fans should be reining it in a little, before they let hope take over their souls, making the potential crushing disappointment of failure even more crushing and disappointing.
Perhaps they're just enjoying the ride. After years of tomato sandwiches on Tesco value bread followed by a smack in the chops with a slipper, this season they've been chowing down on delightful medium-rare steak with a peppercorn sauce and buttered greens. Mmmm mmmm mmmm. Even though there's time for the waiter to stumble over and spill cold custard all over their dinner, at the moment every forkful melts in the mouth, so why would you keep one eye on the waiter precariously balancing the tureen on one arm while he opens a bottle of wine with the other?
The food on offer at West Ham this term has been less fillet steak, more claggy porridge cooked for too long with not enough milk. Claggy porridge cooked for too long with not enough milk that if you complain about it being a bit claggy and without enough milk, whoever handed you the bowl just cups their hand around their ear, puts it to your stomach and wonders what you've been complaining about as you're no longer hungry. It did the job, you aren't going to starve, so quit your whining and drink your small beaker of luke-warm water.
You have to admire Sam Allardyce's disinclination to give a single solitary stuff about what basically anyone thinks of him, so much so that he felt emboldened enough to do his Hulk Hogan impression when the howls of derision echoed around the Boleyn as they clagged their way to a milk-less win over ten-man Hull the other week. It would of course been far more entertaining, and probably not that out of character, if he'd followed it up with a leg-drop on Steve Bruce's head.
So there are dual aims out on the pitch this afternoon. Liverpool are looking to go back to the top of the Premier League and claim their ninth win on the spin, keeping the Premier League in their own hands ahead of the uber mega mighty big one against Manchester City next Sunday, while West Ham and Allardyce are looking to consolidate their mid-table position and figure out more ways to bore then say eff-you to the proles assembled in the stands. Both, in their own special ways, are noble goals.
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"I thought it was interesting to hear Vincent Kompany talk about we are the best team they have played," Rodgers said. "We should have won at the Etihad this season, we should have won there last season but drew 2-2. We should have beaten them at home. We were 2-1 up, then made a mistake and it was two-each so the team we have put together, the mentality is to be fearless.
"It doesn't matter who we play. We have to respect them as they have world-class players but it's about ourselves and the confidence we have to play and for the youngsters to enjoy it. There is no pressure on them. Just go and play and whatever pressure we will take. The most important thing is to focus on the ball and team and not yourselves, and when you do that it will take you a long way."