Liverpool travel to London to face West Ham United on Wednesday evening as they look to go 19 points clear at the top of the Premier League. The Hammers have been underwhelming this season having spent over £75million in the summer to little effect.
David Moyes’ men linger perilously close to the relegation zone. A long-term injury has not helped proceedings but when you have £100 million of firepower up front, the least you can expect is mid-table mediocrity.
The Reds’ once again left it late to claim all three points at Molineux six days ago. Liverpool had to survive a late onslaught from the home side, before Roberto Firmino scored in the 85th minute against the run of play.
West Ham’s form hasn’t improved much since David Moyes was reappointed just under a month ago, with the 4-0 win over an abject Bournemouth side a false dawn. They are winless since then and were dumped out of the FA Cup by an understrength West Brom, despite themselves fielding a near full strength side.
A draw at home against Everton was sandwiched between two away losses to Sheffield United (1-0) and Leicester City (4-1). At home against Everton they created multiple chances and should have won the game comfortably — only poor finishing allowed the Blues to travel back to Liverpool with a point.
When playing at the King Power stadium, three of the goals conceded came down their left-hand side. Leicester also won a penalty after easily getting through their defence. We saw how dangerous Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah can be if they are left plenty of space to get their heads up, so surely West Ham will have to be more compact.
Liverpool extended their winning run to 15 games after defeating Wolves. Jordan Henderson had given the Reds an early lead, heading in from a corner. The Reds continued to have the majority of possession but failed to test Rui Patrício in goal.
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Losing Sadio Mané to injury midway through the first half disrupted Liverpool hugely and, although he is expected to be back for the Norwich City game, the Reds will hope Mané’s loss isn’t too acutely felt during his time out.
Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré were the two biggest threats for the home side, and it was the duo who linked up to score the goal that saw Liverpool pegged back. Traoré used his blistering attack to bypass our defence before his floated ball was headed in by Jiménez. Wolves then started to dominate; Alisson saved well from the aforementioned duo.
It looked as if Liverpool were going to drop points for only the second time this season, before Firmino found the top corner after been set up by Henderson.
Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson are unavailable for David Moyes, but Łukasz Fabiański will be fit.
Due to Liverpool’s attacking threat he will likely play with quite a defensive formation and will look to hit the Reds on the counter as many teams have done this season.
Polish stopper Fabiański will likely start in goal ahead of a back three of Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop.
Michail Antonio and Pablo Zabaleta will sit on the wings to combat the impact of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold bombing up the pitch. Mark Noble, Robert Snodgrass and Declan Rice will sit deep in midfield, while the duo of Manuel Lanzini and Sébastien Haller will defend from the front.
Sadio Mané and James Milner are both ruled out of the tie at the London Stadium and will likely miss Saturday’s visit of Southampton. Despite being unfit, the trio of Dejan Lovren, Joël Matip and Fabinho did not help themselves in the 2-2 draw at Shrewsbury Town and will be lucky to be involved in this game.
Jürgen Klopp will only make one or two changes to the side that beat Wolves. It’s expected that Sadio Mané will be replaced by Divock Origi, while a change in personnel may occur in midfield to keep the squad fresh.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has done well recently but having started three league games in a row for the first time in over a year, Adam Lallana may be called upon.
Liverpool haven’t played West Ham this season due to their commitments it the Club World Cup, and they already hold a 16-point lead over Man City with this game in hand. A win would extend their lead to 19 with the same amount of games played, a lead which surely will be impossible to squander.
Due to Liverpool’s unbeaten record, every team the Reds play from now until the end of the season will want to be the team who end their unbeaten run. Unfortunately for David Moyes and his West Ham side, I don’t think they will be able to do it.
Their defence is far too fragile, and their attack too impotent to compensate. This leaves them little chance of winning any game, let alone against a side as strong and in as good form as Liverpool.
The Reds’ form and mentality will be far too strong for West Ham, and I expect a comfortable victory while keeping another clean sheet.
Predicted final score: West Ham United 0-3 Liverpool