Upton Park, London
April 6th, 2014; 16:00 BST
Brendan Rodgers` Liverpool side travel to Upton Park this weekend as they look set to throw the kitchen`s sink to bag the much coveted Premier League title. The match against the London side is a completely different scenario to last weekend, where the Reds demolished Tottenham at Anfield. Sam Allardyce usually sets his team to park the bus and one wont be surprised if he uses the same strategy against the top scorers in the Premier League this season.
Team news and tactics
The Londoners are currently in mid table with 37 points and they will look to get to the 40 point bench mark which more or less secures their Premier League status. The added incentive of the league leaders coming to town and some of the West Ham players like Carroll and Downing looking to prove a point against their former club should make this an interesting game to watch. The Hammers are coming into this game with a confident mindset after notching up a win against relegation candidates Sunderland.
Big Sam usually sets his team up to be compact at the back and play a physical game with a big striker acting as a focal point upfront. Andy Carroll should take his place as a lone striker providing knock downs for his colleagues, as they will look to penetrate a Liverpool defence which has at times looked vulnerable this season. Kevin Nolan will look to pick up the pieces from ex Geordie colleague Carroll, by playing just off him, with Diame, Noble and Downing supporting them from midfield.
The West Ham fans have voiced their displeasure of the long ball tactics employed by Allardyce, but truth be told, this philosophy has worked for them pretty well and they will look to put the Liverpool centre-halves under pressure right from the beginning. The battle between Skrtel and Carroll is something to look forward to and the battle between the West Ham defence and Liverpool`s front triumvirate of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling should provide an interesting game.
Expected started line-up (4-4-1-1): Adrian (GK); Demel, Tomkins, Reid, NcCartney; Noble, Taylor, Diame, Downing ;Nolan; Carroll.
Liverpool fans will be hoping for the dream to continue as their team has transformed into title challengers this year from an under performing side last term. The Reds have been playing some fine football this season and they are also the top scores in the division with 88 goals. The ‘SAS’ combination has been instrumental to Liverpool doing well and they will look to add to their combined tally of 49 goals, which is incidentally greater than the total number of goals West Ham have scored this season.
This weekend poses an entirely different challenge altogether as the onus will be on Liverpool to break down a stubborn West Ham defence. The Reds may not be able to play their normal counter attacking game and the likes of Gerrard and Coutinho will look to infiltrate the West Ham defence through accurate and intricate passes. Luis Suarez, as usual will be on the prowl in and around the West Ham penalty area and will look to feed his strike partners in Strurridge and Sterling.
With Rodgers` acumen and his flexible tactics, it will be interesting to see how Liverpool starts this game in terms of personnel. Joe Allen might make a comeback into starting eleven after missing out against Tottenham, but Liverpool will be better off playing with the same front three supported by Gerrard, Coutinho and Henderson in nidfield. The centre-halves in Skrtel and Agger will have a busy game on Sunday as they come up against their former colleague in Andy Carroll. Jordan Henderson will be play a crucial role for Liverpool as he has to track the runs of Diame and Noble and also act as an outlet in the attacking front.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Mignolet (GK); Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho; Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge
- West Ham have lost five games from winning positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Liverpool have scored with one in every five shots attempted this season, a better rate than any other side in the top flight.
- Luis Suarez has scored 29 goals this season, the most by any Liverpool player in a single Premier League season.
- Liverpool have scored 52 first half PL goals this season; 16 more than West Ham have managed in total.
Player to watch out for
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
After smashing Robbie Fowler`s record of 28 goals in a Premier League season, Luis Suarez looks set to reach the 30 mark against West Ham on Sunday. The former Ajax man is now just three goals shy of breaking the record of most goals scored by a single player in a 38 match season (Alan Shearer/Ronaldo, 31 goals) with 6 games left. The Uruguayan will look to consolidate Liverpool`s position at the top and will be itching to go against a dodgy West Ham defence.
West Ham 1 -3 Liverpool
Many see this game as a potential banana skin for Liverpool, but the Reds have enough fire power to see them get the three points needed to stay in the title race. The defence should remain vigilant against the likes of Carroll and Nolan and if the Reds get off to a good start, it should be a routine win. West Ham, on the other hand will look to frustrate Liverpool by ‘parking the bus’ and will make use of set pieces to get on the score sheet. It promises to be an intriguing battle between teams playing contrasting styles of football.