Liverpool and West Ham United met back in August at Anfield where the Hammers won three nil. The loss was crucial in Brendan Rodgers getting fired. The Reds now have Jurgen Klopp but the honeymoon period with the charming German is well and truly over and Liverpool need to start winning games if they want to finish in the top four.
After an underwhelming run of four games without a win, including an embarrassing 3-0 loss against Watford, the Merseysiders have improved over the festive period and picked up two wins in two games against Leicester City and Sunderland.
West Ham come into this game after a welcome win over Southampton and sit just one point behind seventh placed Liverpool. A win could thus send them above their matchday opponents. Bilic has done impressively well against the top teams.
After getting the most rest for the previous game, Liverpool now have the least, as they follow the trip to Stadium of Light with another to Upton Park in less than 72 hours. This would make West Ham feel further confident of their chances in the game.
The Hammers have been cursed with injuries as they lost key men Winston Reid, Diafra Sakho, Victor Moses and of course, Dimitri Payet in the last few weeks. Thus, when you look at it, their record of only losing two games in this injury ravaged period is pretty impressive (considering some of the criticism they’ve been getting drawing five successive games prior to the Southampton win).
Reports suggest danger man Dimitri Payet could return for them in this game. The Frenchman did incredibly well for the side since his summer transfer and was unfortunate to suffer an ankle injury that kept him out for almost two months. West Ham’s form also dipped after the Frenchman was out and there was an evident dearth in creativity. Therefore news that Payet could feature at some stage in this game would be welcomed. Winston Reid and Victor Moses could also make a welcome return. Diafra Sakho, is however, still a month away from returning to the thick of things.
Jordan Henderson was substituted against Sunderland so there are doubts concerning him. Klopp said he didn’t have an update on the Liverpool captain, but said it could be good as it might be the “final pain”. Joe Allen will miss the game through illness and Divock Origi along with James Milner will also be out for the tie. Jon Flanagan is fit after 19 months out with injury, but he is only gradually going to be phased in and it’s unlikely to see him feature in the next few games.
Klopp admitted that Daniel Sturridge could return for this match. Benteke started the last two games and despite scoring both the goals in both the matches, doubts over his abilities still persist. Moreover, the workload might force Klopp to give Sturridge a go for this match. At the same time, the Liverpool boss would be careful not to rush him in given his injury-prone nature.
Andy Carroll (West Ham United)
Big Andy came off the bench and scored the winner against West Ham United. There is absolutely no doubt about his aerial prowess, which can make any back line nervous. He often ensures that the opposite defence starts sitting deeper when he is involved which enables the midfield to exploit the spaces in the midfield, as was the case against Southampton. He has been successful as an impact substitute time and again for West Ham, and he may be used in the same manner against the Reds but will still be a key player for the Hammers. Given Liverpool are so susceptible at set-pieces, Carroll’s threat in the game would only be more. The partnership between Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho has been pretty impressive in the last two games but they will have to be extra careful around Carroll who would love to hurt his former employees.
Emre Can (Liverpool)
The German put on a man-of-the-match worthy performance against Sunderland. He is a big presence in the midfield for Liverpool and at 22, his leadership qualities are also a big boost for the side. In case Jordan Henderson misses the game against West Ham, Can will have to be doubly responsible for dominating the heart of the midfield and ensuring the attack keeps ticking.
- Only Nathaniel Clyne has played every minute of Liverpool’s Barclays Premier League season so far.
- The Reds’ leading scorer in the league in 2015 is Philippe Coutinho with eight followed by Steven Gerrard with six.
- West Ham are undefeated in their last 7 home matches in the Premier League.