Liverpool will play their game in hand on Wednesday, as they attempt to take another step on their road to a first Premier League title. They travel to face West Ham United, in what should be a game to win for the visitors. The home side have had a tough week, getting convincingly beaten by Leicester City before losing in the FA Cup to West Brom. Although it may be a blessing in disguise to get knocked out of the competition, it was another disappointing day for supporters as confidence continues to decrease. The last thing that the club needs is a tricky game against the league’s runaway leaders.
West Ham are up against it in the battle against relegation. Despite the obvious talent in their squad, they continue to disappoint in the league, while others around them are improving. They are currently only out of the bottom three on goal difference, with the threat of falling into those places in the coming weeks. David Moyes was brought in to steady the ship, following the failed Manuel Pellegrini tenure. There have been some improvements in performance, but they remain a long way from their best. The issue with Moyes is that he is limited tactically and not the most inspirational figure. If they do fall into the bottom three, it is difficult to have faith in him to lead a revival. They need to keep their heads above water.
It was a rare failure to win for Liverpool at the weekend, as they lost a two-goal lead against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup. Although it was a much-changed team, it showed that this Liverpool team isn’t infallible and they won’t win every game. That said, it is difficult to see them slipping up in the league any time soon. They rode their luck against Wolves at times, but they managed to come through and take the three points. It should be a much easier task on Wednesday against a poor West Ham team. Supporters will be hoping for an emphatic display and a comfortable win looks likely based on the quality of the two sides.
Mark Noble has scored and assisted a total of 79 goals for West Ham in the Premier League. This is the best record for any player in the club’s history.
All ten of Roberto Firmino’s goals have come away from home this season.
Sebastian Haller hasn’t had the impact that West Ham United would have hoped for after his big-money summer move. It has long been speculated that strikers are cursed when they move to the club, with few attackers making a telling impact in recent years. The stat above regarding Mark Noble underlines the issues that have faced the club. They have failed to bring in effective attacking players that can show consistency at the highest level. It was expected that the French striker would put an end to that. Although he has been okay, his return of six goals and one assist hasn’t caught the eye, with his performances even less so. At times, the game can pass him by and he struggles to impact matches. Moyes will be hoping that will change in the coming months, as the 25-year-old adapts to the Premier League. The Hammers will need him to perform well on Wednesday and compete against a dogged Liverpool defence if they are to have any chance of breaking them down.
This is going to be another opportunity for the Brazilian to show his quality away from Anfield. Although it is a worry that he has failed to make an impact at home, his form on the road has been a massive help for the Reds, as he has won key points for the club. That was best shown last week, when he popped up with the late winner against Wolves. It was a very difficult match that the Reds struggled to dominate, but they managed to get the right result. That is the sign of champions and the attitude of their Brazilian forward was key to that. The 28-year-old has scored four goals in his last three Premier League matches away from home. The space afforded to him on the road has been a huge reason for his goal-scoring form. Defences are pre-occupied with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, which gives an opportunity to Firmino to do the damage. Against West Ham, he attempted four shots, made two key passes and completed four tackles, underlining how key he is to the style of play coached by Jurgen Klopp. The German wants his team to press from the front and Firmino is the player that leads that. Given his recent form, he is the obvious danger man on Wednesday.
It is hoped that Robert Snodgrass will be fit to start on Wednesday, with Arthur Masuaku also a doubt. Michail Antonio is pushing for a start, but it may come slightly too soon for him. Lukasz Fabianski remains on the sidelines.
Sadio Mane is a major doubt after coming off injured last week. Divock Origi is the most likely player to replace him in the starting eleven if he does need to miss out. Fabinho is working his way back to fitness, but Klopp may decide to leave him on the bench against West Ham.
This should be a straightforward game for Liverpool, despite West Ham’s vulnerable position at the bottom of the table. In their previous outing in the league, the Hammers were easily beaten by Leicester City who cut through their defence on a number of occasions. The current league leaders are a superior team and they should have similar joy against the defence of the home team. The injury to Sadio Mane can be dealt with in this fixture if he isn’t passed fit to play. A comfortable away win looks a smart bet.
West Ham 0-3 Liverpool