Of the many Premier League sides that had tough fixtures during the week, two go head to head this game week in the league. On Monday night, Liverpool, who were beaten by Atletico Madrid in Spain on Tuesday night, host West Ham United, who were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City on Wednesday night.
In Jurgen Klopp’s words, the 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday night felt like cold rain, while for the most part, Liverpool’s current season has been beautiful sunshine. And the Reds are keen to get back to the sunshine as soon as possible. And why would they not be keen? They sit 3 points away from the league tally racked up by the treble-winning Manchester United side. They are also merely 5 wins (or 4 if Leicester can get a result against Manchester City) away from the much-awaited league title. The midweek loss is likely to be a mere hiccup in what is otherwise turning out to be a remarkable league campaign. Much of the rhetoric in the aftermath of the loss to Atleti has focused on the fact that the second leg at Anfield is yet to be played. That is indeed true and as West Ham can attest, winning at Anfield is one of the harder accomplishments in football.
For now, winning anywhere is a challenge for West Ham. They have lost four and drawn 2 in their last six games in all competitions. They are out of FA Cup and sit 18th in the league table, sitting one and two points respectively behind 17th placed Aston Villa and 16th placed Bournemouth. They do have a game in hand against those fellow-relegation competitors. However, if that game is against Liverpool at Anfield. West Ham come into this game having lost 2-0 to Manchester City on Wednesday night. While David Moyes’ men did put up a strong and brave defence, it was not enough for stopping Manchester City. Now Moyes, who has never won a game at Anfield in all competitions, will be hoping that his side can stop Liverpool’s juggernaut in its stride and in its own home. It however, is unlikely that his hopeful wish will be fulfilled against a Liverpool side determined to get back t winning ways.
- Few ties in Premier League are as one-sided as Liverpool Vs West Ham. In the last 46 league fixtures between Liverpool and West Ham played at Anfield, West Ham have won only once (3-0 in August 2015). In fact, the Hammers have failed to score in 31 of those 46 games.
- Liverpool have won their last two home Premier League matches against West Ham, scoring four goals in each victory. But this game is their first game on a Monday night since a 1-1 draw at West Ham in February 2019. That was the last time Liverpool failed to win a Premier League match having scored the first goal.
- West Ham do not tend to lead much against Liverpool. They have led for only 126 minutes in 23 Premier League away matches against Liverpool, with 87 of the 126 minutes coming in their 3-0 win at Anfield in August 2015.
- West Ham also have a poor record against the slides starting the day at the top of the table. They have won just two of their last 41 away top-flight games against sides starting the day top of the table (D8 L31), beating Manchester United 1-0 in May 2007 and Manchester City 2-1 in September 2015.
- On the other hand, Liverpool are on the verge of multiple records. They have won their last 17 Premier League games, just one short of the all-time English top-flight record set by Manchester City between August and December 2017 (18). They have also won their last 20 home Premier League games, scoring 58 goals and conceding just 12. With a win on Monday night, the Reds can equal the English top-flight record for consecutive home wins, set by Liverpool themselves in the calendar year 1972, when Bill Shankly’s side won 21 in a row.
There are only a handful of clubs against whom Mohamed Salah has a better record than the one he has against West Ham United. The Egyptian has scored 5 goals and assisted 2 in his 5 appearances against the Hammers. Overall, he has scored 14 and assisted 6 this season, which by his own lofty standards set in the previous two seasons, seems inadequate. However, he has the chance to increase his tally on Monday night. His xG90 + xA90 of 0.98 indicates that most likely he will contribute a goal or two if he plays 90 minutes. With 3.9 shots per Premier League game, Salah is the most prolific shooter in the league and that too will hold him on good stead on Monday night.
Snodgrass is nowhere as prolific as Liverpool’s talisman. However, as someone who has contributed 9 out of the 30 goals that the Hammers have scored, he is as prominent in his team as Salah in Liverpool. An xG90 + xA90 of 0.38 does not indicate superlative ability to contribute goals but does indicate a likelihood of Snodgrass contributing a goal, roughly every three games. His record against Liverpool – one goals scored in 7 appearances is not great but he and his manager will hope that it improves by the time the game on Monday night ends.
For Liverpool, captain Jordan Henderson suffered a hamstring injury during the game against Atleti in Spain. This will see him sit out 3 weeks. Other potential absentees for Klopp include Xherdan Shaqiri (doubtful) and Nathaniel Cyne. This means that Jurgen Klopp has almost a complete fit squad to choose from. However, given that he has gone on record to say that he wants his side to bounce back to winning ways in this game, it is unlikely that he will rotate too much. Either Oxlade-Chamberlain or Naby Keita can expect to be brought in for Henderson but otherwise Klopp is likely to field his first choice XI.
For the Hammers, the absentees include Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Ryan Fredericks, who was taken off with a shoulder injury against Manchester City in the midweek. Felipe Anderson, who has been out of the side since early January was back to West Ham bench on Wednesday night and will likely push for a start against the Reds. Manuel Lanzini and Sebastien Haller will also be looking for recalls for the Hammers.
The loss to Atleti is likely to be a minor blip in Liverpool’s season and in any case, is unlikely to have an effect on their Premier League form. David Moyes can try and set his team up as defensively as possible, but West Ham are not Atletico Madrid and a win for Liverpool seems fairly certain.
Liverpool 3 – 0 West Ham