Gerrard expecting Hammers backlash

RAFAEL BENITEZ will be hoping that his team can concentrate on the crucial task of securing fourth place in the Barclays Premier League tonight.

Victory over West Ham at Anfield will have to be achieved with Liverpool once-again distracted by another potential takeover — with Dubai International Capital keen to take control of the club.

And the Anfield chief, who has lived with this turmoil at the club for months, knows Liverpool must win their long-awaited game in hand over their closest rivals if they are to gain the confidence boost of a return to fourth place.

Captain Steven Gerrard is concerned that West Ham, beaten badly 4-0 at home by 10-man Chelsea on Saturday, will want to hit back.

He explained: “When you are on the end of a battering you hurt and you want to put it right straight away.

“They will come to Anfield hoping to get a good result, and a good result for them would be a draw,” he said.

Meanwhile, West Ham manager Alan Curbishley admitted his players still bear the scars of their 4-0 thrashing by Chelsea ahead of tonight’s match.

And while Curbishley is confident his side have the mettle to bounce back, the 50-year-old knows that a vast improvement is required against Rafael Benitez’s men.

He said: “We’re still a bit embarrassed and stunned. We’ve spoken to the players about it, and we’ll never forget it.

Although his team are 10 points adrift of Liverpool, Curbishley continues to harbour hopes of European football for his team next season.

But he knows that defeat tonight would virtually extinguish the Hammers’ hopes of a UEFA Cup spot.

“If Liverpool won, it might finish us off in terms of breaking into the European places. We’re in no man’s land, and we need to change that,” he added.

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