Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Premier League clash between Liverpool and West Ham United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Reds advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 2-1 success over Norwich City on Wednesday night, while David Moyes‘s men crashed out to Southampton.
Over 120 minutes of action at Wembley certainly took its toll on Liverpool – but their endeavours ended in a record-breaking ninth EFL Cup title – and hopes of an unprecedented quadruple remain alive after a second-string XI saw off Norwich in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Takumi Minamino struck twice before the break to put Liverpool in cruise control, and while the Canaries hit back through Lukas Rupp‘s thunderbolt with 14 minutes left to play, Dean Smith‘s side bowed out to the superior team on Merseyside.
Klopp has understandably sought to play down talk of a “crazy” quadruple, but the Reds are only six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, and Pep Guardiola‘s side must navigate the derby with Manchester United on Sunday.
Liverpool and Everton fans displayed a rare moment of unity when Rodri‘s seemingly blatant handball in the area was not penalised at Goodison Park last week – with City’s 1-0 win having implications at both ends of the table – so Klopp’s side need no more motivation to remain within touching distance of the champions.
Victory over Norwich marked Liverpool’s 11th win on the bounce in all competitions – with six of those successes coming in the Premier League – and not since October have the EFL Cup winners dropped points in a Premier League home fixture.
While West Ham lined up with a full-strength XI, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl shuffled the pack considerably for the FA Cup fifth-round meeting at St Mary’s, and the mood around the Saints crowd was certainly not one of optimism.
However, when Southampton are in a good moment, they are in a very good moment indeed, as Romain Perraud, James Ward-Prowse and Armando Broja sent the Saints through to the quarter-finals courtesy of a 3-1 success, with Michail Antonio bagging a consolation for the Hammers.
Still fighting for success on two fronts ahead of their Europa League last-16 battle with Sevilla, West Ham did at least boost their top-four chances with last week’s 1-0 success over Wolverhampton Wanderers and lie fifth in the table – two points adrift of Man United – ahead of the weekend.
A surprise draw or victory at Anfield would see the Hammers move back into the final Champions League spot before Man United and Arsenal return to action on Sunday, but Moyes’s side have won just two of their last eight away from home in the Premier League as they seek to make lightning strike twice against the Reds.
Indeed, West Ham came out on the correct end of a 3-2 scoreline with Liverpool paid a visit to the London Stadium back in November, but the Reds have won each of the last four meetings between the sides at Anfield – scoring at least two goals each time.
Liverpool Premier League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
West Ham United Premier League form:
West Ham United form (all competitions):
Liverpool attacker Roberto Firmino remains out of action due to his muscular problem, but Thiago Alcantara may be ready to return from his hamstring injury against Inter Milan in the Champions League next week.
Curtis Jones is also a slight doubt after feeling a twinge in his thigh during the FA Cup victory over Norwich, but Klopp ought to make changes in abundance after giving the majority of his EFL Cup-winning starting XI rests in midweek.
Meanwhile, West Ham lynchpin Tomas Soucek required stitches after an elbow from Ibrahima Diallo in Wednesday’s loss to Southampton, but at this stage there is nothing to suggest that the Czech midfielder will not be involved at Anfield.
Vladimir Coufal, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku and Angelo Ogbonna make up four defensive absentees for West Ham, while Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko has taken some time off amid Russia’s invasion of his homeland.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Elliott, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Mane, Diaz
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio
We say: Liverpool 3-1 West Ham United
Liverpool may already have one eye on the second leg versus Inter, but with the majority of their big-hitters well-rested after their EFL Cup triumph, we can only envisage one result here.
West Ham have flattered to deceive on the road recently, and their first-choice XI must cope with a rapid turnaround after a disappointing midweek outing, so Klopp’s men will expect to cruise to victory.