WEST HAM UNITED
Saturday, 29 August 2015 1400 hrs UTC
Liverpool are undefeated in the league so far and have plenty of reasons to be positive. While it may be a bit naive to get too ahead of themselves, since the season is only three games old, the Reds do seem to have shaken off the horrible hangover that was last season and Brendan Rodgers finally has his unadulterated team.
West Ham themselves began the season like a dream, with a 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates but Slaven Bili ‘s team goes to Anfield under some pressure, after two consecutive home losses to Leicester City and new boys Bournemouth.
Team News & Tactics
Liverpool have a possibility of going into the international break with 10 points from the 12 available. Considering their opponents in these first four matches, this doesn’t seem like an incredible task but taking into account their performance last season, it will be a small albeit praise-worthy milestone.
Jordan Henderson missed the game against Arsenal and remains an injury doubt. Adam Lallana also remains an injury doubt though the England international has been incredibly mediocre in the two opening games and his absence may not hurt Liverpool’s chances all that much. The Reds’ fans have something to smile about as Daniel Sturridge has returned to training at Melwood but the player will of course need more time to be match-fit.
Rodgers, therefore, has the same personnel as he had against Arsenal to choose from and is expected to field the same team that played well to secure a point away at the Emirates.
Liverpool have been infamous for leaking goals for a few seasons now, so Rodgers would be proud of his new defence that is yet to concede one. Dejan Lovren has been under intense scrutiny since his big money move but the player has done relatively well in this season.
Lucas, who was very close to a move to Besiktas, is going to stay at Anfield in an incredible turnaround by Brendan Rodgers. The Brazilian made an impressive 6 tackles and 4 interceptions in the 76 minutes he was on the pitch against Arsenal. In Henderson’s absence, he is expected to play along with Emre Can and James Milner.
Roberto Firmino will hope he can impress the Anfield crowd as he too is expected to start this game after impressing in his full debut against Arsenal. Philippe Coutinho has been Liverpool’s main attacking threat and much of whether the Reds can get three points or not on Saturday depends on the talismanic Brazilian. Christian Benteke is beginning to prove the skeptics wrong and has impressed so far but he will hope he can turn performances into goals now and get his second goal for the Reds.
West Ham United
It’s not just the performances and results that have gone wrong for the Hammers since their morale boosting opening day win over Arsenal. Kevin Nolan, the club captain, who spent four years with the club after signing from Newcastle United in June 2011 and led them to promotion to the Premier League in his first season, has departed the club “with mutual consent”. Enner Valencia has claimed that the club has forgotten him and has lashed out at the medical staff (he has since, apologised for these comments). Meanwhile, the future of Modibo Maiga is also up in the air. A source close to the club revealed that the player was scheduled to play Liverpool this weekend, before going AWOL. Saudi club Al Nassr claimed that they had signed the Mali international.
All in all, Bilic has as much to sort out off the field as he has on it. He, however, should know what is more important as Anfield can be a cruel destination and Liverpool are in decent touch at the moment. Even so, Bilic doesn’t have to go too far to look for inspiration as his predecessor showed last season that a win over the Reds is not an impossible task. If The Hammers can play in a similar fashion as last season, or as they did against Arsenal, they have a strong chance of returning home with three points.
As for the absentees, Bilic has to deal with the suspension of Carl Jenkinson. Angelo Ogbonna, who was disappointed to be subbed in the first half against West Ham, is likely to be reinstated in the starting eleven which could mean that Tomkins will move out wide in Jenkinson’s absence. Valencia and Mauro Zarate are sidelined for the Croat. Nolan’s departure could mean Matt Jarvis finds a place for himself in the midfield. Andy Carroll has returned to training but won’t be fit to feature against his former employers.
Possible Starting Line-up (4-3-2-1): Randolph; Tomkins, Ogbonna, Reid, Cresswell; Noble, Obiang,Kouyate; Payet, Jarvis; Sakho
- Of the last 13 meetings between these sides, West Ham have won just twice.
- West Ham last won at Anfield in 1963.
- The win over Arsenal was West Ham’s first away win in the year 2015.
- West Ham have lost 5 of their last 6 matches in the Premier League.
Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
The young Liverpool defender has done everything right since being entrusted with left-back duties. He is an important reason for the Reds not conceding a goal in 270 minutes of league football this season. The 18-year-old has deservedly earned a U-21 call up by England and will look to continue his good form in this game.
Liverpool 1 West Ham 0
Liverpool will want to get back to winning and scoring ways after the draw against Arsenal, where they really should have converted one of the first half chances. Brendan Rodgers is still waiting for his new look attack to click. Firmino, Coutinho and Benteke will have a better understanding in this game and could be a handful for their opponents. West Ham have found things tough in the last two weeks and they would be hoping they can go into the international break with more points on board, but may find it tough. Another ground-out 1-0 win for Liverpool in this one.