West Ham vs Liverpool: Talking points, line-up and predicted score

Liverpool will visit West Ham this weekend, having ended their dismal run of winless games with a thoroughly impressive 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.


The stakes will be high in this encounter at the London Stadium, with the Reds currently sit 4th in the table and the Hammers enjoying a fine season sitting just two points behind.



A tale of contrasting seasons (so far, at least)


Liverpool scoring a Sadio Mane goal
Image Source: Liverpool FC

The encounter against David Moyes' team will see fourth versus fifth in England as the season crosses the halfway mark; a statement that both sets of fans will find it hard to believe if you had told them in September.


Liverpool were strong favourites to defend their Premier League title at the start of the season, having made a couple of shrewd signings to bolster an already world-class squad. The quality of Thiago Alcantara and Diojo Jota was never in doubt; they were additions meant to provide the necessary bit of competitiveness among Jurgen Klopp's squad.


An unfortunate spate of injuries meant that the two new signings have already missed significant parts of the campaign and along with the well-documented defensive crisis, Liverpool's slide down the league table should not come as a complete surprise.


The Hammers, on the other hand, are having an enjoyable season. Even the most ardent of West Ham fans will find it hard to believe that half the campaign has been played and they are currently sitting in a European spot, above the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal.


It is such a strange season and it is hard to know if the current league standings are going to be a reflection of it come May, but it is so far so good for the London club, and not so much for the Reds.


For now, at least.


Can the Reds' makeshift defence keep Antonio quiet?

Liverpool's defensive woes took another hit after Fabinho had picked up a minor issue that saw him missed out on the midweek victory at Spurs, and will be watching this game from the sidelines too. Joel Matip was also (almost unsurprisingly) hauled off at half-time with a ligament injury, which leaves the Reds without a senior centre-half against West Ham.


Antonio for West Ham
Image Source: Premier League

Now, just take a moment to let that sink in — Liverpool somehow find themselves without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho. We are certain even a team with the depth of Manchester City side will struggle if the likes of John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake are all ruled out.


Jordan Henderson has stepped up (or back, in this case) admirably for the Reds, putting in a couple of solid shifts at the heart of the defence. The captain will have his work cut out for him this evening though, as he faces the lively Michail Antonio who will prove to be a handful for any Premier League defender.



The England forward has been in fine form since his return from his injury, scoring two goals in his last three games. Antonio was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet in their last game against Crystal Palace too, and is certainly a forward in fine form.


Nathaniel Phillips will likely keep his place in the team; it is shaping up to be a crucial battle and Klopp will definitely be aware that keeping the West Ham forward quiet will be vital in getting all three points at the London Stadium.


Golden chance to build on the winning momentum


Alexander-Arnold celebrating a goal against Spurs
Image Source: Liverpool FC

Having endured a miserable start to the calendar year, Liverpool will have a chance to win back-to-back Premier League games after a five-match winless streak. It was a vital three points for the Reds, as they look to quickly get the season back on track.


The Reds have actually displayed subtle signs of their revival in their 3-2 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup, losing only to a superb Bruno Fernandes free-kick.


The front three now looked to have rediscovered their scoring touch, Trent Alexander-Arnold seemed more like the right-back we once knew and Thiago Alcantara's influence is growing with each passing game.


With City on the horizon, Klopp will know that it is absolutely key to stay within touching distance of the current league leaders before the much-anticipated clash in about a week's time, and it starts with a win against West Ham.



Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)


Alisson, Robertson, Phillips, Henderson, Alexander-Arnold, Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jones, Mane, Firmino, Salah


Predicted Score: West Ham 1-3 Liverpool


 

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