Liverpool outcasts 'kept West Ham up'
Liverpool might have turned into title challengers since selling Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing but the pair have kept West Ham in the Premier League this season, according to Hammers co-chairman David Sullivan.
Striker Carroll and winger Downing were both shipped out of Anfield by manager Brendan Rodgers for less than half of the big fees the Reds paid for them as part of a major squad overhaul last summer.
Liverpool travel to Upton Park on Sunday sitting top of the Premier League table with just six games left to play, while their hosts have all but mathematically achieved their own aim of avoiding relegation.
And Sullivan told the Daily Mirror that, had he not been plagued by injury this season, Carroll could have helped the Hammers push even further up the table.
"If Carroll had been fit all season, we’d have been pushing for Europe," he said. "We’ve averaged two points a game over the last nine games -- and he’s still not match-fit.
"I accept he didn’t fit in with the style Liverpool play, but he’s still a fantastic player and we’re delighted with him.
"During the first half of the season, Andy was tremendously unlucky with injuries. But we at the club have always believed in him.
"He is an extremely motivated young man who still has his best years ahead of him and we’re excited by that. I’m sure he’ll be just as excited about coming up against his old club.
"As for Stewart, he has had a fantastic season and has also been instrumental in helping us to climb to safety. Success is relative but these two players have helped us to stay in the Premier League and now we can continue to build."
Although some West Ham fans have recently vented their frustrations at manager Sam Allardyce's direct style of play, the Londoners have moved clear of the relegation mire with a run of results at Upton Park which Sullivan believes could see them threaten an upset against their free-scoring visitors.
"On current form, Liverpool might just be the best team in the world and, realistically, the bookies have got it right in making them favourites for Sunday," he said.
"It will be an incredibly tough game, but we’ve won four out of the last five home games and we’ll not be rolling over."