West Ham v Liverpool Match Preview
West Ham will be without defender Jose Fonte, who suffered an ankle injury last weekend.
Sam Byram and Michail Antonio are also unfit after training injuries, while Pablo Zabaleta is suspended.
For the Reds, Phillippe Coutinho is unavailable until after the international break, while Georgino Wijnaldum is also a doubt.
Manager Jurgen Klopp also confirmed Sadio Mane and Nathaniel Clyne have returned to training. It is possible they may feature this weekend.
Bilic’s final roll of the dice?
West Ham’s late collapse at Crystal Palace last weekend sums up their situation perfectly. They managed to find themselves in the lead through two well-worked goals before poor commitment and game management threw it away for them.
The latter ultimately has to draw finger pointing towards manager Slaven Bilic. While doubts about his future have been ongoing for several weeks now, you feel another heavy defeat could seal his fate for good.
That said, the 49-year-old has developed a habit of winning games when he needs to. The best example in recent weeks is the 3-2 win over Spurs in the League Cup.
The big silver lining for the Hammers’ will be their opponent’s defence. Liverpool have conceded 16 goals in their 10 Premier League games – the most of anyone in the top 6.
However, their own defence is even more worrying, with 19 goals conceded this season, 5 of which coming in their last two league games.
If West Ham are to beat the Reds this weekend, they will have to rely on the attacking prowess of Chicharito and Andre Ayew, both of whom netted against Palace.
Yet Liverpool’s ruthless attack could easily see them take the Irons apart, having done so last year at the London Stadium. But even if Bilic was to stay on, given West Ham’s consistent fall under his watch for the last year, you feel that that could be equally season defining.
Reds craving consistency
Liverpool will no doubt be encouraged after their 3-0 romping of Huddersfield last Saturday. They also produced an equally professional performance on Wednesday night, albeit against a lacklustre Maribor.
With the likes of Roberto Firmino, Mohammad Salah and Daniel Sturridge all in good form, they have many a reason to cause West Ham worry.
However, their previously mentioned defence could easily be their downfall. Dejan Lovren, in particular, has caused them to lose valuable points from stupid positions all too often this season.
In their last trip away, they allowed the Tottenham attack to walk all over them. Prior to that, they also shipped a further five goals against an admittedly remarkable Manchester City side.
On a more positive note, only 7 of their goals conceded have come against sides outside the top 6. Ironically, this is almost a complete reverse of last season, where they were unbeaten against their fellow top 6 teams.
Despite this, however, the performances leading to these wins have been anything but comfortable
If Liverpool want to form any sort of title challenge, they need to start winning games like this more convincingly. No doubt a tense affair away at a West Ham side very much under pressure will provide a significant test to these ambitions.
There’s no doubt both of these teams have points to prove, but the winner will ultimately come down to who holds their nerve the best. Liverpool are natural favourites, but West Ham certainly have the quality to punish them. Overall though, the Hammers look far too poor defensively to keep Liverpool at bay for 90 minutes, especially with two key units in Fonte and Zabaleta out. And despite their attacking talents, Liverpool’s definitely outshines them, and outscoring them also seems an unrealistic prediction.
Predicted Result: 3-1 Liverpool
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