After coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 against Hull City, West Ham United welcome Liverpool to Upton Park in the Saturday tea-time encounter. The Hammers go into the game in 13th place after picking up four points from their first four games whilst Gerrard and co have lost two of their four matches to sit eighth going into the weekend.
The Reds go into the game on the back of a shock defeat at home to Aston Villa after a bitterly disappointing display. Coupled with the defeat at Man City in their second game, Liverpool have already lost twice so far which will be frustrating considering the excellent display against Spurs; Rodgers expects better from his men and after narrowly winning in their first game back in the Champions League in midweek, he will want his team to get back on track from a domestic point of view.
Sam Allardyce will take many positives from his side’s performance against a tough Hull outfit who led twice in the match. An absolute thunderbolt from Enner Valencia alongside a Curtis Davies own goal helped West Ham share the spoils in an entertaining affair. The Hammers were desperate to gain something out of the match considering their woeful display at home to Southampton in their previous game. In front of their home fans once again, West Ham will want to give their supporters something to cheer about come the end of the game.
It was a controversial affair he last time these two sides met at Upton Park with Liverpool eventually edging the contest 2-1. That was courtesy of two penalties, both scored by captain Steven Gerrard, which was sandwiched between a Guy Demel goal, which was allowed to stand even after Andy Carroll impeded goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the build up.
Back Liverpool to win at 5/4 with Betway, whilst West Ham have been priced at 9/2 with a draw at 18/5.
After opening his Liverpool account in midweek, you can back Balotelli score first at 5/1, while the Hammers hitman Enner Valencia has been priced at 8/1 to notch first.
West Ham will hope to be able to call on Matt Jarvis, who has recovered from a thigh injury as well as Carl Jenkinson who tweaked his hamstring in the draw against Hull City. Joey O’Brien could also be declared fit for the Saturday tea-time game after shaking off a knee injury but club captain Kevin Nolan will not be in action for at least another month after fracturing his shoulder. Injury-prone striker and former Liverpool player Andy Carroll will miss the match against his old side as he is still suffering from an ankle injury.
The Hammers went into the game at the KC Stadium with a surprisingly attacking line up after handing debuts to Diafra Sakho and the impressive Enner Valencia who scored an early contender for goal of the season with a thunderous strike in the 2-2 draw. Zarate and Downing provided the support for the strikers but it looks like at least one of the four attacking players will be sacrificed in order to sure up the midfield with Alex Song being a strong contender to start.
The Reds could see the return of Martin Skrtel and Joe Allen to the first team line-up after both missed the defeat to Aston Villa last week. Glen Johnson (thigh) is nearing full fitness but Jon Flanagan (knee) will be missing for a few months after undergoing surgery. Emre Can was recently ruled out for up to six weeks after injuring his ankle on duty with the German U21 team. Liverpool were also dealt another huge blow when Sturridge injured his thigh muscle when training with the England national team and will definitely miss the game against West Ham.
Rodgers reverted back to 4-3-3 system against Aston Villa and clearly something didn’t click so he may look to go to his favoured diamond formation in midfield, with Sterling playing either as a second striker or as a number 10 behind the front two. Balotelli will lead the line but Rodgers may spring a surprise by giving Fabio Borini an opportunity up front after impressing as a substitute in the Champions League.
- Liverpool have won three out of the four meetings between the two drawing the other one.
- West Ham have only won one of the last 11 meeting between the pair.
- Liverpool have scored at least two goals in eight of their last nine away matches in the Premier League.
- The Reds are undefeated in 21 of their last 23 matches against the Hammers in all competitions.
- Four own goals have been scored in the last seven Premier League meetings between the sides.
- If Liverpool score in this game they will set a new club top-flight record of scoring in 17 consecutive away games.
Recent Head to Heads
2013/2014 Sun 06 Apr West Ham 1 – 2 Liverpool
2013/2014 Sat 07 Dec Liverpool 4 – 1 West Ham
2012/2013 Sun 07 Apr Liverpool 0 – 0 West Ham
2012/2013 Sun 09 Dec West Ham 2 – 3 Liverpool
2010/2011 Sun 27 Feb West Ham 3 – 1 Liverpool
2010/2011 Sat 20 Nov Liverpool 3 – 0 West Ham
West Ham: Enner Valencia
Enner Valencia hasn’t had much time this season to show that he is worth the £15 million price tag he was bought for in the summer but made an immediate impact when given his full debut against Hull on Monday. His 25 yard screamer helped earn West Ham a 2-2 draw. During his time in the Mexican League for Pachuca, he had an impressive goal scoring record with 18 goals in only 23 appearances making him top scorer in the league. The Ecuador international registered a shot accuracy of 52% from his 81 shots in the last campaign with an impressive conversion rate of 22%. Valencia shone during the World Cup, scoring three goals contributing in the move to West Ham and will hope to build on his good summer and debut in the Premier League
Liverpool: Mario Balotelli
After scoring a crucial goal against Ludogorets in the Champions League on Tuesday, Mario Balotelli will be looking to finally get a Premier League goal to his name for Liverpool against West Ham. The big Italian striker should be boosted by his well taken goal in midweek but so far in his two games in the Premier League, he has only shown glimpses of what he can do after starting to adapt to the Reds’ style of play. There is no doubt that the Italian can be unplayable on his day, as shown during his time for AC Milan last season where he scored 14 goals last term, but it is whether he can produce on a regular basis and scored the vital goals that were provided by Luis Suarez last season. The Uruguayan was also instrumental in creating chances, which Balotelli will have to contribute with to prove that he is the striker that Liverpool need in tandem with Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool have won their last two at Upton Park but both have been close contests and I predict it will be the same this time around. If Liverpool start the match playing diamond formation with good intensity I think Gerrard and co will take all three points home to Anfield.