Football is Back as The Reds Take On The Hammers
Team News and Predicted Lineup
Jurgen Klopp will almost certainly retain the majority of the players who starred against Porto in the Champions League. The only exception to this will be Emre Can who previously missed out due to suspension; he could replace Jordan Henderson as the holding midfielder. Other players who could spring a surprise include the returning Alberto Moreno and Trent Gomez, as well as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip who could also be handed starting roles.
Team News and Predicted Lineup
West Ham’s team selection will not be nearly as straightforward thanks to a number of injuries and a suspension to Artur Masuaku. Edmilison Fernandes, Pedro Obiang and Andy Carroll are not expected to be fit in time, but Manuel Lanzini and Winston Reid will be assessed before the game to see if they will be ready to play. Michel Antonio has been covering at left wing-back, but if Reid returns then Aaron Cresswell will likely take Antonio’s place. If Lanzini is fit to start, David Moyes will have plenty of options both with his formation and players, given the fact that Lanzini can play behind the striker or in a deeper role.
Both sides have had a relatively long time to prepare for this match as neither squad had midweek cup games to play. Klopp used this time to take his players to Spain for another one of his ‘mini pre-seasons’ in preparation for the road ahead. This should mean that the players will be well rested and well drilled in order to break down what will undoubtedly be a stubborn and deep West Ham defence-line. The key for Liverpool will be to try and exploit West Ham’s lack of pace down their right-hand side and turn Pablo Zabaleta and James Collins as often as possible. Barring a moment of magic, a set piece goal, or a long-range strike, Liverpool may find their chances few and far between unless they can get a quick goal and force West Ham to open up.
Moyes has likewise had plenty of time to prepare his side for the challenge of going to Anfield and getting a result. He will certainly have focused his attention on Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah and plotted to halt their impressive form. West Ham will have to allow Liverpool plenty of possession and try to hit them hard with the in-form Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez on the counter. If they concede a goal before Liverpool are ready to see the game out, then they could be lured into another thrashing as they were at the Olympic Stadium.
Liverpool have worked hard this season to improve their results against sides who sit deep and invite pressure. Sometimes it has worked, and sometimes it hasn’t. However, The Reds have shown far greater consistency in this aspect recently and their current form along with being back at home should be enough to see them over the line. It’s entirely possible that West Ham could frustrate Liverpool as the likes of Swansea have done, but it’s also possible that Liverpool will steamroll the Hammers again. For this match I’m predicting a similar game to the recent one against Southampton and Liverpool will stroll to a comfortable and important 2-0 victory.
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/02/2018.