WEST HAM UNITED
31st January 2015, 15.00 GMT
Liverpool will be out for revenge against the very impressive West Ham United as they host the Hammers, who are placed above them in the league.
Liverpool- Tactical Brief and Possible Line-Up
Liverpool come into this game with the disappointment of crashing out of the Capital One Cup, but would definitely be in confident mood as the performances they put in across the two legs were praise worthy and there seemed to be positive signs for the coming months and a possible top 4 challenge.
Brendan Rodgers’ switch to the 3-4-2-1 system has worked very well for the side, both in attack as well in the defence. Mamadou Sakho limped off the game against Chelsea but he declared via Twitter that he is fine, which would be a huge relief as the thoughts of either one of Glen Johnson or Dejan Lovren getting in the side is scary for any Liverpool supporter. Daniel Sturridge is finally set to return to the squad after a five month absence (his last game was against Tottenham Hotspur on 31st August). However, he is going to be eased into the thick of things, so is likely to find himself on the bench and would probably get about 20-30 minutes as a substitute. This means that Raheem Sterling will continue to lead Liverpool’s attack. Steven Gerrard played 120 minutes against Chelsea just three days back so Adam Lallana is expected to start the game alongside Philippe Coutinho. Rest of the team is expected to be the same as the one that lined up against Chelsea.
Sam Allardyce has done a remarkable job with his side this season and would hope he can do the double over Liverpool this season. Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva has been exceptional in recent weeks and he would have to ensure the threat of former Liverpool player Stewart Downing is minimized in the centre of the park. The likes of Martin Skrtel and Emre Can would have to do well against the physical presence of another former Liverpool man, Andy Carroll. Diafra Sakho has been another huge player for the Hammers and Liverpool’s defence would have to ensure the pacey player doesn’t get space to strike the back of the net.
West Ham- Tactical Brief and Possible Line-Up
The Hammers would go into this game with the confidence of already having beaten Liverpool once this season and sitting a position above them. However, a loss would see them swapping the seventh spot with the Reds.
West Ham have some injuries to worry about with James Collins suffering from a back injury and fellow centre-back James Tomkins carrying a knock. Carl Jenkinson could be fit for the game. Cheikhou Kouyat has returned from the African Cup of Nations, but it would depend on Sam Allardyce whether he would reinstate him in the starting 11 right away. The biggest worry for the visiting manager would be Alex Song. The defensive midfielder has had a terrific season on loan with the Premier League side, but is currently dealing with a knock. West Ham would hope he it fit enough to start the game against the Merseysiders.
James Tomkins is carrying a knock but should be able to overcome it and partner Winston Reid, heavily linked with a move away from the club, in the defence. The midfield diamond of the side would probably see Alex Song in the holding position, with Nolan and Noble slightly ahead. Stewart Downing will continue in his newfound playmaker role behind the strikers. Diafro Sakho (who is involved in a club versus country row over his fitness), has done brilliantly this season and would lead the visitors line alongside Andy Carroll.
Liverpool don’t boast a good home record this season but have been in good form recently, so West Ham would not be facing the hapless team they did earlier this season. However, if the visitors can win the midfield battle and conquer the threat of Lucas, who has done a tremendous job shielding the defence recently, they would make the Reds defence pregnable and Downing’s excellent vision linking up with Sakho’s pace and Carroll’s physical presence can cause the Reds a lot of damage.
Probable Line-up (4-4-2): Adrian; Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell; Song, Nolan, Noble; Downing; Carroll, Sakho
- Liverpool have won 14 points in their last six matches with only Southampton having more. The Reds have conceded just six goals in their last nine games.
- They have only won two of their last six games at Anfield, drawing three.
- West Ham’s form has been slipping lately, winning just two games in their last six.They have not won away from home since December 2nd when they defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1.
The visitors are enjoying a brilliant season and Sam Allardyce’s work with the side just cannot be understated. Brendan Rodgers is a good tactician himself and likes to tinker and experiment. The fact that he used the winger, who flopped massively at Merseyside, as a left-back to try and grind out performances from the player illustrates that. But Big Sam showed credentials as he moved the England international in the centre of the park, as a number 10, to utilize his vision and the dividends are there for everyone to see. With five goals and seven assists, Downing has not only become a key member for his side, but has also found himself in contention to be recalled by Roy Hodgson for the national side.
Liverpool 1 West Ham United 0
Liverpool have been in good touch recently but still find goals hard to come by (the game against Chelsea showed that they can create, but clinicality still evades them). Daniel Sturridge’s return will boost their prospects but he is only likely to start from the bench so his impact wouldn’t be so great in this game. West Ham are not in the same touch they were when they faced Liverpool last time and hence they probably won’t be able to go home with any points. A win would see the Reds leapfrog their opponents to the seventh spot. If Tottenham lose out to West Brom, the Reds can finish the gameweek in the sixth place and really push their top 4 challenge.