Premier League preview: Liverpool v West Ham
West Ham United can take a further step towards English Premier League survival if they pick up points away to in-form Liverpool on Sunday.
Two wins in their past three Premier League matches have seen West Ham rise to 11th in the standings, six points clear of the relegation zone.
But with such a congested bottom half of the table, the east London club need to keep picking up positive results.
Those victories have come with Gary O'Neil impressing in defensive midfield in place of the injured Mark Noble.
O'Neil, who had previously been used by West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on the right-hand side of midfield or defence, has thrived at the base of the engine room; a position the 29-year-old had previous experience of when coming up through the ranks at Portsmouth.
"I've enjoyed it since I've been playing in that slightly deeper role, I used to play there in the youth team," O'Neil said.
Allardyce will be reminding his players they cannot afford to concede games against the likes of Liverpool with matches against Manchester United and Manchester City coming up this month.
O'Neil scored one goal and set up another in West Ham's shock 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion last week but the former England youth international has claimed it is the defensive side of his role that remains his focus.
"I have to be slightly more aware of the defensive side of things because when you're playing in an advanced position like Kevin Nolan or Mo Diame you can get a bit carried away and follow the ball which is my tendency," O'Neil said.
"I have to make myself aware of my defensive responsibilities and the lads behind me are great.
"Winston Reid and James Collins have been shouting at me non-stop 'left shoulder, right shoulder'.
"There's always someone on one shoulder or another."
While the lead-up to West Ham's trip north to take on Liverpool has been dominated by the focus on Andy Carroll's return to Anfield, O'Neil will arguably be more important for Allardyce's team as they attempt to take points of the in-form Reds.
Liverpool have won five of their past six games in all competitions, including last week's 2-1 comeback triumph away to Aston Villa, and with the likes of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho likely to cycle through attacking midfield, O'Neil is set for a busy day.
Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool could rise above Everton into sixth in the Premier League if they defeat West Ham and their local rivals lose to Tottenham.