Last time Liverpool were in a title chase, a certain group of gentlemen including Manuel Pellegrini, Pablo Zabaleta, and Samir Nasri pipped them to the post. On that occasion, it was Chelsea that tripped the Reds and handed the title to Pellegrini’s team. Now it is Pellegrini and his team who will try to trip Liverpool up in their latest title push and hand the title to Manchester City (or Tottenham). It is with that aim that Pellegrini’s West Ham will host Klopp’s Liverpool on Monday night.
West Ham come into the game having lost their last two games. However, those two games against Wolves and Bournemouth were both away from the London Stadium. At home, they are unbeaten in the last two games, including a 1-0 win against Arsenal in their last home game. Overall, West Ham are averaging 1.41 points at home, slightly better than their overall average of 1.29. They have also scored more at home (17) than away (13) and conceded fewer at home (18) than away (19). Sitting 12th in the table, Pellegrini’s team might not feel like too much of a threat to the Reds, but Liverpool will be better off being cautious of the side that has beaten both Arsenal and Manchester United at home.
If Liverpool had allowed any laxity to creep in their game, the events of the midweek would have made sure they will shed it off before heading to London. During the midweek league games, Manchester City handed the Reds an opportunity to go clear by seven points by losing at St. James’ Park. But Liverpool were not able to capitalize as they let Leicester return with a point from Anfield, still extending their lead but only by one point, and not by the possible three. As a result, by the time Reds will play West Ham, Manchester City could be just two points behind them, and Tottenham are just four behind. The Reds were short-staffed at home against the Foxes but should have a few more options against West Ham. Whatever the team Klopp puts out on Monday, he will send them out with only one message – that they need to win and win with as many goals as possible.
- West Ham are meeting their prime tormentors this game week. They have lost their last four Premier League games against Liverpool, conceding exactly four goals in each defeat (scored two). Only Manchester United (five times between 1893 and 1906) and Middlesbrough (seven times between 1930 and 1933) have conceded four or more goals in more consecutive games.
- Liverpool have won both their away games at the London Stadium against West Ham but they have not beaten Hammers in three consecutive away games since January 2007. On the other hand, West Ham are looking to win three consecutive matches in all competitions at the London Stadium for the first time in what will be their 61st match at the stadium.
- West Ham’s defence in 2019 seems to be one that stays solid in the first half but weakens in the second half. All 7 of their goals conceded in 2019 have been conceded in the second half.
- Liverpool have kept six clean sheets away from home so far this season, one more than they managed in the whole of last season. They last kept more clean sheets on the road in the 2014-15 with 8 clean sheets.
Having scored 8 goals and assisted 2 in 24 appearances so far, Felipe Anderson is the primary attacking threat for West Ham. His xGp90 and xAp90 are both 0.19 (0.38 put together). What it tells us is that he is as likely to score as he is to assist, but in the absence of Marko Arnautovic, his key passes are generally unsuccessful. He has not contributed a goal in the league since scoring a brace against Southampton in December. Nevertheless, he will be the primary creative as well as attacking threat for Liverpool to contend with.
Salah loves playing against West Ham. He has contributed five goals in last three appearances against the Hammers, scoring four and assisting one. He had scored a brace in the same fixture last season. His xGp90 of 0.70 and xAp90 of 0.36 means that he will likely contribute at least one goal if he plays the entire 90 minutes. He is just two goals away from reaching 50 league goals for Liverpool and if he achieves that feat in his 61st game, he will be one of the fastest to reach the milestone.
No team in Premier League right now has an injury list longer than West Ham. Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini are long term absentees, as are Carlos Sanchez and Andriy Yarmolenko who have both had surgeries and are expected back by April. Among the freshly injured, Pellegrini will be hoping that Fabianski and Cresswell can make it back for the game on Monday after their arm and hamstring injuries respectively. Marko Arnautovic might not be available though and could be replaced by Andy Carroll. January signing Samir Nasri is also a doubt due to a slight knock.
Liverpool were in a bit of a quandary in terms of personnel available for selection for the game against Leicester, primarily as James Milner was out serving a one-game suspension leaving a gap at right-back. However, he will be back on Monday, allowing the likes of Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Henderson to line up in more familiar midfield roles. Virgil van Djik’s illness scare could not keep him out of the side on Wednesday and he could be partnered with Dejan Lovren, who was on the bench on Wednesday. Connor Randall has been included in the Premier League squad as a possible backup for the right-back position, as it was confirmed that Joe Gomez will need a surgery and more time before he can return, and Trent-Alexander Arnold is close to return but will not be available on Monday.
Liverpool will be raring to get back to winning ways in London. That and their recent record against West Ham suggests that this should be a win for the Reds.
West Ham 1 – 4 Liverpool