Liverpool entertain West Ham United on Sunday in a bid to haul themselves back towards the top of the Premier League table, having lost ground on Chelsea last weekend.
Having not beaten the Hammers in any of the four previous meetings between the two teams, Liverpool fans will have some understandable nerves heading into the game, ones that need to be put to bed through a strong performance.
Match: Liverpool vs West Ham United
Date: Sunday 11th December
Time: 16:30 BST
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Having gone unbeaten in over three months following the defeat to Burnley in Matchweek two, Jürgen Klopp’s side finally suffered the taste of defeat once more last time out, going down 4-3 in an exciting game away to AFC Bournemouth. The Reds were 0-2 and then 1-3 up, but conceded three times in the last 15 minutes in their second South-Coast collapse of 2016, following the 3-2 defeat to Southampton last season.
Things were going well before that, although the draw at St Mary’s three weeks ago means that Liverpool have now only won one of three games since the November international break, a 2-0 win against Sunderland at Anfield.
Fortunately for the Reds, West Ham come into the game in even worse form. Slaven Bilic’s side came into the season full of hope, but it’s not gone at all to plan. Their misery was compounded with a 5-1 home defeat to rivals Arsenal, shortly after they threw away a 2-1 lead away to Tottenham Hotspur, losing 3-2 following goals in the dying minutes.
However, they have shown ability to take points off top teams still, evidenced by Diafra Sakho’s goal at Old Trafford two weeks ago, which earned the Hammers a 1-1 draw against Manchester United.
Liverpool go into the weekend third, a point off Arsenal in second and four from table-toppers Chelsea, but will hope to have closed the gap come Sunday evening. West Ham are 17th, and could end the weekend as high as 13th or as low as 19th.
Liverpool have suffered from a few more injury troubles in recent weeks than they’ve seen previously this season, starting with Philippe Coutinho being sidelined for the whole December schedule. Joel Matip, who missed last week’s defensive calamity with an ankle problem, is set to return to the side.
Other concerns include Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, however they’re both expected to get over knocks and feature. Daniel Sturridge (calf) will most likely remain out, suggesting that Divock Origi will lead the line.
For West Ham, Diafra Sakho is out with a thigh injury, but Andy Carroll’s recent return to fitness could cause Liverpool notable problems. The Hammers are suffering something of an injury crisis at the moment, but are expected to be boosted by the returning Aaron Cresswell, Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Origi.
West Ham Predicted XI: Adrian; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Reid, Collins, Antonio; Kouyate, Noble, Payet, Lanzini; Fletcher.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool played West Ham four times last season, losing twice in the league before drawing an FA Cup fixture at Anfield, losing the replay at Upton Park. The most recent fixture was that replay, one that West Ham took the lead in through Antonio, before a Ronaldinho-esque free-kick from Coutinho saw the Reds bag an equaliser. A young side including the likes of Brad Smith, Pedro Chirivella and Joao Teixeira battled well, but lost out to an Angelo Ogbonna header in the final minute of extra time
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 1-1 WEST HAM
Despite a couple of beatings recently, West Ham’s record away to the big boys last season presents them with a shout of nabbing a point here. Liverpool are expected to win, but with injuries starting to nag a little, it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see them drop a couple of points at Anfield, especially after the disappointment of last Sunday.