The Boleyn ground in East London will play host to a fast improving Liverpool side on Sunday when they take on Sam Allardyce’s West Ham. Despite being unable to put together back to back victories this season Liverpool are showing promising signs under boss Brendan Rodgers. The Reds’ failure to convert performances into points and the lack of firepower in front of goal has cost Liverpool valuable points. The Premier League’s leading goal scorer Luis Suarez is not available for selection and this will test Liverpool even further. The Uruguayan has been irresistible this season and has been directly responsible for 13 of Liverpool’s 19 goals this season. The former Ajax man has been an ever present figure and has been on the field for all but four minutes of the domestic campaign. His suspension means Rodgers will go into the game without a recognised striker.
The Hammers meanwhile are on a high following on from their impressive 3-1 victory over European Champions Chelsea. West Ham sit in eight position and have looked the most impressive of the promoted sides. Unlike Liverpool, West Ham haven’t had to rely on one man to do the scoring as 12 different players have found the net for the Hammers. Worryingly for them though, Kevin Nolan’s five goals are the highest scored by a West Ham player this season.
Andy Carroll’s long layoff with a knee injury has meant that Carlton Cole has been elevated to a starting role. He took his opportunity and found his name on the score sheet against Chelsea. He will be expected to lead the line ahead of Maiga, who Allardyce has used sparingly. George McCartney is also rated a 50-50 following his recovery.
Luis Suarez’s handball last weekend meant he is ruled out of the match on Sunday. This leaves Liverpool without a recognised striker. They may either opt to play one of their wide men in a more central role, go for youth in the form of talented German Samed Yesil or alternatively play Jonjo Shelvey in a false nine position.
Mohammed Diame: The Senegalese midfielder came off the bench to make a significant impact against Chelsea last week and his performance should see him restored to the starting lineup. His powerful frame and ball-winning ability remind many of a Patrick Viera at his prime. The former Wigan employee has a 75% success rate in tackling and his ability to break down play has helped West Ham’s counter attacking thrive.
Raheem Sterling: Suarez’s absence means Sterling might well be drafted into a more central position than the one he currently occupies. The Jamaican born has been the most impressive of the younger generation this season. His electric speed and willingness to run directly at opponents has seen him cause numerous problems to opposing defences. The 18-year-old has successfully dribbled past opponents 38 times this season and has contributed with four assists and a goal. He will be the focus of many balls played in from the Liverpool’s midfield.
West Ham have been impressive at home this season. They have only lost a single game in East London and have picked up 15 of their 22 points at Upton Park. Sam Allardyce’s men have made their home ground a fortress and not many sides have found it easy playing in front of the Hammers. Their defence has been well organized and Liverpool will find it hard to break them down. Without the threat of Suarez, Liverpool seem a bit blunt in front and don’t be surprised to see West Ham keep yet another clean sheet.
West Ham 1-0 Liverpool