RBM - Club captain Kevin Nolan received quite a bit of flak for his performance against Everton. Was the criticism warranted? How has he played all season?
IV - Kevin Nolan has been on that slippery slope named 'Old Age' for quite a while now. The last two seasons he could fall back on his predatory instinct to say "Well, I'm still scoring the goals the club needs!" regardless of how he performed - which was woefully at points. He returned to the starting XI when injuries/international duty started taking players out of the squad, and in his first couple of games, he was the 'old' Nolan. Then, it has gone all downhill again. He just doesn't have the legs anymore.
Is it warranted? Perhaps, but, bear in mind he asked to be dropped last season whilst he was playing woefully, getting red cards left right and centre, only to be told Sam thought he'd make an impact regardless of his form - you can't really berate Nolan for being in the XI can you?
RBM - Sam Allardyce missed the weekend game with illness. Will he be back on the bench Tuesday? Did you notice a difference in his absence on the touchline?
IV - He is expected to be back. I missed his forlorn face chewing gum whilst throwing his arms up in the air at countless spurned chances. Other than that, there was no difference for me - as everything his assistant Neil McDonald did, was advised by Sam himself.
RBM - The African Cup of Nations is here again. Who are the Hammers losing to the tournament, and who will be stepping in to fill the void?
IV - Well, we thought it was going to be the trio of Cheikhou Kouyate, Alex Song and Diafra Sakho. It's now only Kouyate!
Sakho is injured for a short period of time ruling him out, which is a shame for us and his Nation.
Song wasn't called up initially - however, Cameroon then changed their mind and asked him to join up with the squad. Cue broken hearts - and thinking our season will dramatically divot during his absence.. Song has since retired from International football and said he is only focused on finishing in Europe with West Ham this season and rebuilding his domestic career at the club...Cue mass outburst of "I love Alex Song" tweets.
Kouyate although a brilliant player won't be missed too much during those few games, Sakho being injured is a massive hit though. Although, if Andy Carroll keeps scoring goals as he is, that may not even be that big a hit!
RBM - West Ham have had issues with marking at set-pieces, conceding some crucial goals. What is the root of the problem there, and how do they fix it?
IV - I don't think it's that big a worry. For instance against Swansea, James Collins wasn't 'seriously' hurt - but had to leave the field of play. Corner comes in, Bafetimbi Gomis heads it freely, it goes in. If Collins was on the pitch, would Gomis have scored? Had a free header? Who knows.
I think when any team struggles with set pieces it's the communication between the two CB's and the goalkeeper. Like in the first match, why on earth did Winston Reid feel the need to go all the way into the RB area? It caused a lack of communication, a lack of a key player in the box, and it ultimately resulted in your equaliser.
RBM - Sam Allardyce has said that the FA Cup is his biggest priority at the moment. Does he name an unchanged side from Saturday, or will he ring in the changes for Tuesday?
IV - Well he has said he will play his strongest side, so I'd imagine...
Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Collins, Cresswell, Song, Noble, Downing, Amalfitano, Valencia, Carroll.
It will be interesting to see if we stick with the 3-5-2 we played at Swansea on the weekend though, as Carl Jenkinson especially thrived in that even more attacking role.
RBM - Finally, your score prediction for the game?
IV - I genuinely hope we can do it, especially given the 'easy' (no such thing!) draw in the next round. With Song back, I can't see us being as sloppy, or, letting the midfield slip away from us as easily as we did in the first games second half. 2-1 win, Lukaku/Baines/Osman to score your one.