Liverpool will be aiming to continue their recent resurgence in the Premier League with a win at Anfield this weekend but face a difficult challenge in the form of West Ham United.
The Reds were defeated in their league cup semi-final against Chelsea during the week despite putting in an impressive performance. Missed chances proved to be their undoing and so Brendan Rodgers will be relieved that Daniel Sturridge will finally be able to make his long-awaited return to action this weekend.
West Ham have been impressive so far this season and currently sit in seventh place in the Premier League table, one point ahead of Liverpool. This game sees a return to Anfield for Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, and both will be hoping to lead West Ham to a second win over the Reds in the league this season.
Liverpool can move into the top six with a win if other results go their way, while West Ham can achieve the same as well as putting a cushion between themselves and their opponents in the league table.
Daniel Sturridge is back in training and will be in line for a place on the bench at the very least for Liverpool this weekend. Mamadou Sakho had to come off with an injury in the game against Chelsea but has confirmed he will be back in training before the weekend, so it will be interesting to see if Rodgers keeps him in the team or replaces him with Glen Johnson or Dejan Lovren. Brad Jones could also return to the side this weekend.
Joey O’Brien, Carl Jenkinson and James Tomkins have all been struggling with injuries but West Ham hope that the three players will be able to play this weekend as long as they can pass late fitness tests. Alex Song has been dealing with a knock but should be fit enough to return to the squad in time for Saturday’s game. James Collins and Guy Demel are also in line to make their respective returns to the squad this weekend if they can prove their fitness in time.
- Liverpool have won 14 points in their last six matches with only Southampton having more.
- The Reds have conceded just six goals in their last nine games.
- They have only won two of their last six games at Anfield, drawing three.
- West Ham defeated Liverpool 3-1 earlier in the season.
- The Irons’ form has been slipping lately, winning just two games in their last six.
- They have not won away from home since December 2nd when they defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1.
In Sturridge’s absence, Sterling has led the line for Liverpool for much of the season and has become something of a talisman for the club in that time. He has played in all but one of Liverpool’s games this season and has scored four goals. His 38 shots at goal have resulted in a 55% shot accuracy and according to Squawka.com, he has also been able to create 50 chances for his team mates, including five assists. Sterling has completed 522 passes in the league so far this season and when you include the passes that have not found a team mate, he has a passing accuracy of 81%. Unsurprisingly, he has been successful 64 of the 122 times he has attempted to take on an opponent. The return of Liverpool’s star striker will ease the burden on Sterling and in many ways, this probably makes him a bigger threat.
Downing has been in sensational form for West Ham this season and is likely the first name on the team sheet for Sam Allardyce. He has appeared in all but one of their league games and has scored five goals from midfield. More impressively though, he has created 60 chances for his team mates according to Squawka.com, and seven of them have resulted in assists. He has completed 719 passes, giving him an accuracy of 86% in this statistic. Fans who want to see attacking football will be pleased to know that around two thirds of these have been forward passes. He has lost just over half of the duels he has been involved in however, with the only detailed statistic that he has a winning percentage in being in terms of how many times he has been fouled. Liverpool’s midfield will have to deal with Downing well if they are to prevent him from coming back to haunt his former club.
Liverpool have been playing very well recently and look like they are not far off matching the performances of last season. Their home form hasn’t been great but neither has the away form of West Ham which has been poor in recent games. For this reason, I think Liverpool will come out on top with a narrow 1-0 victory.