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Liverpool v West Ham – EFL Cup Quarter Final Preview

For the quarter-final of the 2023/24 EFL Cup, Liverpool will entertain West Ham on Wednesday night, with a desire to secure a place in the new year’s semi-finals. This current period within the English top tier is relentless and creating bad form and injuries across the Premier League. To add to the already stretched fixture list, the reds must now dust themselves off from their disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United (this past Sunday), as the chance to march one step closer to silverware presents itself. West Ham have had a recent taste of the celebrated trophy lift, as their 2022/23 exploits ended with tournament victory in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

The East London outfit have never won the English League Cup, with losing finals being played out in 1966 (amazingly) and 1981. The former Upton Park outfit did win the first ever Football League War Cup in 1940, something that was abolished in 1945. The reds are domestic and European royalty, with a record seeing them as nine-time winners of the English League Cup.

The West Ham Availability

On the injury front, Michail Antonio is out until after Christmas Day, whereas the rest of the squad are seemingly available. Recent form for David Moyes’ team has been somewhat sporadic, as their last game saw them comprehensively beat Wolves 3-0 (at home), although only after an astonishing 5-0 drubbing, away to Fulham. Either side of that surprise result saw a tremendous 1-2 win, away to Spurs, with their latest Europa League outing (a 2-0 win at home to Freiburg), coming days after their unfortunate visit to Craven Cottage. After 17 games played, an impressive 27 points have been garnered, which has them sat comfortably in 8th place in the Premier League.

West Ham’s Predicted Starting Eleven

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. I believe some firm rotation will be needed by the visitors, with Manchester United set to visit the London Stadium for their 12.30 encounter on Saturday.

GK – Alphonse Areola

RB – Vladimír Coufal

RCB – Kurt Zouma

LCB – Angelo Ogbonna

LB – Aaron Cresswell

CDM – Edson Álvarez

CM – Pablo Fornals

RM – Mohammed Kudus

LM – Lucas Paquetá

ACM – Jarrod Bowen

CF – Danny Ings

The Liverpool Availability

In terms of injuries, the unavailability of Thiago Alcântara appears to be nearly at an end, as the magnificent former Bayern Munich man was seen at the Axa Training Centre last week. Stefan Bajčetić and Andy Robertson are out until the new year, whereas Joël Matip has sustained a season-ending ACL injury. Alexis Mac Allister will not be risked for this cup tie due to stitches in his knee, after sustaining the injury against Sheffield United. His return date is as yet unclear; however, he may well be out until the new year also. Ryan Gravenberch picked up a knock against Manchester United.

Liverpool’s Predicted Starting Eleven

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the home side, where the hybrid initiative may be abandoned for a more conventional 4-3-3 formation.

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

RB – Joe Gomez

RCB – Jarell Quansah

LCB – Virgil van Dijk

LB – Calum Scanlan

RCM – Harvey Elliott

CDM – Trent Alexander Arnold

LCM – Curtis Jones

RW – Mohamed Salah

CF – Cody Gakpo

LW – Dominik Szoboszlai

How Will This Contest Play Out

I can see fatigue and indecision creating a goal fest for this singular cup tie. A desire to progress to the semi-final of the EFL Cup will be the driving force for many of those participants, as the domestic journey is often the only assurance of a starting place. I cannot easily predict how this tie will unfold, as I am unsure how Liverpool’s manager will decide his starting eleven. A mixture of young and experienced is likely, with the Anfield crowd perhaps driving them to greater heights than were experienced at the weekend. West Ham will be dogged and ferocious on the counter attack, which makes for a tantalizing contest.

The Football League War Cup History

As a continuation to the first section, the Football League War Cup was created in 1939, after the suspension of the FA Cup during the Second World War. The last ever final of that competition was held in 1945, with the list of winners shown below.

1940 – West Ham

1941 – Preston North End

1942 – Wolverhampton Wanderers

1943 – Blackpool

1944 – Charlton & Aston Villa (1-1, no replay)

1945 – Bolton Wanderers

The above competition should not be confused with the EFL Cup (more commonly known as the English League Cup), something that was not formed until 1960.

Player to Watch: Jarell Quansah

Score Prediction:

Liverpool 3 – 2 West Ham

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