The West Ham manager, Alan Pardew, is confident his team can finally hit their stride when they take on Palermo in tonight's Uefa Cup return leg.
The Hammers travel to the Renzo Barbera stadium needing to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit in order to progress. Pardew's team have won just once this season and face an Italian side that is third in Serie A.
"I feel this is a great opportunity to put in a really top-class performance, which I don't think we've given since the game when we lost at Liverpool," said Pardew.
The manager says his players are eager to show a better image than they gave in the opening leg at Upton Park two weeks ago. "We felt very aggrieved to come away with a 1-0 defeat, as good as Palermo are," he said. "We need to attack this game, our aim must be to score two goals and hopefully that will be enough to see us through."
Pardew insists talk of a takeover at the club has not distracted his players from tonight's task. "The media have picked up more on the story [of a takeover] than the players or myself," he said. "We have just tried to do our work. Unfortunately, because of a couple of performances not up to our standard people have read all sorts of things into it."
West Ham will be without the defenders Anton Ferdinand and Christian Dailly, who were both injured in Saturday's defeat at Manchester City. Pardew will also have to wait for the results of late fitness tests on the defenders James Collins and Tyrone Mears.
The Palermo coach Francesco Guidolin will have all his players available with the exception of the defender Giuseppe Biava. Biava sustained a muscle injury in last weekend's defeat against Empoli.Reuse content