Liverpool dismantled West Ham 4-0 during their visit to the London Stadium last season and a similar result could be on the cards again. Having eased passed Huddersfield and Maribor this past week, Klopp’s men may have found a bit of momentum and maybe a little bit of a positive attitude which will see them nicely into this game. On the other hand, West Ham sit tantalisingly above the relegation zone on just nine points, and Slaven Bilic is favoured to exit the club this side of Christmas.
Liverpool Team News
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, 15 of the 16 league goals that Liverpool have conceded this season have come away from home, so it’s anticipated that Simon Mignolet will come under fire once again on Saturday. He had a very quiet afternoon against Huddersfield as he wasn’t required to make a single save, but the leaky away defence will certainly be on his mind. Those demons will need to be shut out if he is going to cut a confident figure between the sticks.
The back four will likely remain unchanged from last weekend. Dejan Lovren was rather sarcastically voted as the fans Player of the Month for October, but is still a doubt to play as he struggles to return to full fitness. Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan have appeared a very competent centre-back pairing in Lovren’s absence and have kept two clean sheets in the last two games. Joe Gomez will continue at right-back after the news that he has been called up to the England senior squad for the first time in his career. Everyone is anticipating that this will be the first of many. Alberto Moreno is a completely different player to the one he was last season and will carry on putting in a shift on the left side of the back four.
A couple of injuries have been creeping in recently and the central midfield has taken quite a hit. Philippe Coutinho is unlikely to feature once again and he has been joined on the injury list by Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutchman was substituted in the first half of the Maribor game after he damaged his ankle by rolling it. There is a very suitable in James Milner who has quietly been one of the best players this season, when he has been on the pitch. Milner’s penalty miss in the Champions League on Wednesday means that the Reds have missed five of their last seven in all competitions. We’re not certain who will be brave enough to put their hand up should such a situation arise tomorrow. The midfield will be completed by Jordan Henderson, who was Wijnaldum’s replacement midweek, and Emre Can.
The 4-3-3 formation is still being run with and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was moved up on Wednesday night, but that decision was more of an experiment than anything. Although he didn’t do too much wrong, Oxlade-Chamberlain will likely drop to the bench, with Daniel Sturridge joining Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah in the front line. West Ham will be playing with a considerably weakened back line, so Liverpool’s strike force should be ready to run amok.
Predicted Lineup: Mignolet; Moreno, Matip, Klavan, Gomez; Milner, Henderson, Can; Firmino, Sturridge, Salah.
West Ham Team News
As previously mentioned, West Ham are struggling with a few defensive injuries with big names such as James Collins, Jose Fonte and Winston Reid all likely to miss the match. Even Michail Antonio, the midfielder who has been utilised as a defender recently, will be unavailable with a rib injury. Their defensive woes continue, as Pablo Zabaleta, who has been one of the best players this season, is suspended after picking up five yellow cards already. 18-year-old Declan Rice has been called up from the academy and has done a decent job at centre-back. The scraping of the barrel continues, as Edimilson Fernandes may have to be deployed as a right-wingback. In goal, Joe Hart has been shaky at best during his loan spell and has conceded 19 goals so far, this season. Liverpool’s forwards will be looking to test him as much as possible tomorrow.
Former Red, Andy Carroll will be playing against Liverpool for the seventh time and having picked up just two goals against them, he wouldn’t appear to be too much of a threat. However, his aerial prowess and Liverpool’s problems defending corners, shows that Carroll may cause several problems and will be one to look out for. He’ll be joined up front by Javier Hernandez the dangerous Mexican. Hernandez hasn’t performed quite as well as many expected this season, but his four goals make him clearly the top scorer for the Hammers.
Predicted Lineup: Hart; Ogbonna, Kouyate, Rice; Cresswell, Ayew, Noble, Obiang; Fernandes; Carroll, Hernandez.
Liverpool will go into this match as strong favourites, but as we’ve seen recently that doesn’t mean anything. Their issues away from home make it difficult to back them, and Bilic will be going all out tomorrow as a positive result might save his job. Considering all this, I expect Liverpool’s power going forward will be too much for West Ham’s weakened back line and a high scoring 3-2 victory for the away side could be on the cards.