After seeing off FC Midtjylland in the Champions League on Tuesday, Liverpool turn their attention to the Premier League and the visit of West Ham to Anfield on Saturday.
The defending Premier League champions will be happy with their work against Midtjylland, as a rotated side ultimately got the job done with a 2-0 win over the Danish side, despite a withdrawn performance.
Victory was made all the sweeter because manager Jurgen Klopp was able to leave front three Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane on the bench for the majority of the game.
Liverpool vs West Ham betting odds:
- Liverpool to win: 2/5
- Draw: 4/1
- West Ham: 13/2
Liverpool will be confident of making it consecutive home wins in a week. Klopp’s team are unbeaten in their last 62 Premier League home games and have won 28 of their last 29. West Ham, meanwhile, have managed just one win in their last 47 away league games at Anfield.
1. Liverpool predicted line-up: who plays next to Gomez?
Klopp gave run-outs to Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri on Tuesday, but the second-string attack can expect to return to bench-warming duties on Saturday, with fabled front three Salah, Firmino and Mane returning to the starting line-up against the Hammers.
That much is obvious. Elsewhere, though, there are plenty of question marks for Klopp.
Fabinho’s hamstring injury, picked up against Midtjylland, was far from ideal for Klopp, who now has just one fit senior centre-back at his disposal as Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip are already sidelined.
Rhys Williams stepped up to the plate to plug the gap after 30 minutes when Fabinho was forced off against the Danes and Klopp was full of praise for the defender’s performance post-match.
“Rhys did really well,” Klopp said. “He has now made two Champions League appearances and has won both. Promising.”
Klopp also identified fellow academy products Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio as potential options at centre-back, while midfielders Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum could feasibly drop back alongside Joe Gomez.
But having been impressed by Williams, it seems possible Klopp will keep faith with the rising star for another match.
In midfield there remain doubts about the fitness of Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara, who were both absent midweek. Thiago has not played since the 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby, but reports suggest the Spanish international might be fit enough to return against West Ham.
Predicted Liverpool line-up: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Williams, Gomez, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane
2. How will West Ham adapt to losing Antonio?
For West Ham the big news is that star performer and top goalscorer Michail Antonio is out of this clash and faces a month-long absence from the first team after suffering a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Man City last week.
The winger-turned-striker has been a clear stand-out player for the Hammers this season, running defences ragged through his blend of tireless running and athleticism, while his fantastic overhead kick against City underlined just how important he is to a side who are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games.
Antonio’s mix of brains and brawn would have offered David Moyes the perfect weapon to capitalise on Liverpool’s weakened backline, but he must now look for alternatives, which could see Sebastien Haller handed a chance.
The out-of-sorts Frenchman was a sensation in pre-season, domestic cup matches against Charlton and Hull, and as a late substitute in the 4-0 win over Wolves, in which he added the fourth. He now has a chance to really step up and stake a claim in Antonio’s absence.
Algerian winger Said Benrahma could be also included in the Hammers squad for the first time following his transfer from Brentford after working to reach match fitness. But, Moyes is likely to remain unchanged with the system that has proven so effective recently, with Haller for Antonio the only change likely to happen.
Predicted West Ham line-up: Fabianski; Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Masuaku, Soucek, Rice, Coufal; Fournals, Bowen, Haller.
3. Mane and Salah to test Hammers’ defence
The Hammers will have to be on top of their game to keep wide forwards Mane and Salah quiet. Mane (five goals, two assists) and Salah (six goals, two assists) have been involved in eight goals in six league games for Liverpool against West Ham.
Mane, in particular, has enjoyed himself against Saturday’s opponents, finding the net in each of his last four appearances.
West Ham should have the belief they can shut out Liverpool’s marksmen, with their eight points having been picked up against teams which finished in the top eight of the Premier League last season, but it will be no easy task.
4. Both teams to score
Even before Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis, the Reds had struggled at the back, shipping seven against Aston Villa with Van Dijk in the line-up.
Klopp’s side have steadied the ship somewhat with clean sheets in both of their Champions League group games so far, but Liverpool have managed to keep just one clean sheet in the Premier League this season, and that was in the opening game against Chelsea.
Arsenal, Villa, Everton and Sheffield United have all netted against the defending champions and, having scored four against Wolves and three at Tottenham, West Ham have the pedigree to do the same.
5. Liverpool to stay joint-top (at least)
West Ham may well score against Liverpool’s makeshift defence, but anything other than a home win would still be a surprise.
Liverpool’s home form in the Premier League is simply ridiculous and they are unbeaten in their last eight league meetings with the Hammers.
If they avoid defeat, Liverpool will equal their longest ever unbeaten home league run of 63 matches, set between February 1978 and December 1980.
Additionally, Moyes has never won in 15 previous Premier League away games against Liverpool, who will overtake or at least keep place with his former club Everton should they win on Saturday.