The FourFourTwo Preview: Liverpool vs West Ham

Premier League | Upton Park | Sat 7 Dec | 3pm

Billed as

Stop him. Any way. Tackle him. Kick him… bite him? 

The lowdown

Wa-wa-wee-wa, Luis Suarez is special. If the Uruguayan's 10 goals this season weren’t evidence enough (after missing the first five league games), his stunning four-goal haul against Norwich on Wednesday night cemented his status as the Premier League’s best forward.

LIVERPOOL FORM

  • Liverpool 5-1 Norwich (Prem)
  • Everton 3-3 Liverpool (Prem)
  • Liverpool 4-0 Fulham (Prem)
  • Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool (Prem)
  • Liverpool 4-1 WBA (Prem)  

WEST HAM FORM

  • Palace 1-0 West Ham (Prem)
  • West Ham 3-0 Fulham (Prem)
  • West Ham 0-3 Chelsea (Prem)
  • Norwich 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
  • West Ham 0-0 Aston Villa (Prem)

Once he’d planted a silly lob over John Ruddy inside 15 minutes at Anfield, the only way was up for the 26-year-old. He hooked home a second from a Philippe Coutinho corner, before completing his hat-trick with a rifled beauty on 35 minutes. A superb free-kick brought the inevitable No.4.

"He is really happy here,” beamed boss Brendan Rodgers, on the player desperate to leave Liverpool over the summer. “Everything about him is just world class.”  

So forgive Sam Allardyce when he's casting nervous glances in the directions of James’s Collins and Tomkins between now and Saturday. Without Winston Reid and reeling from his side’s 1-0 defeat at lowly Crystal Palace on Tuesday, it’s safe to suggest the big Dudlian is thinking somewhat small about his side’s chances at Anfield. 
 
With only one win in their last seven league games, the Hammers are hovering perilously above the drop zone with a three-point advantage over hapless Fulham. Goalscoring is a big issue – only three sides have managed fewer than their 12, while Suarez alone has 13.
 
And if that wasn’t enough, wait for this: the east Londoners haven’t tasted league victory at Anfield since 1963 – that’s 40 attempts with 29 defeats and 11 draws. Ouch. 

Team news

It’s as you were from midweek for Liverpool, who are still without Daniel Sturridge (ankle) and left-back Jose Enrique (knee) until the New Year. On the plus side, Kolo Toure (hip) is likely to be fit after missing Wednesday’s Canary trouncing.  
 
Frustratingly for Allardyce, Ravel Morrison will miss the game after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season for a needless shove to Joel Ward's face after the final whistle at Selhurst Park. West Ham remain without long-term absentees Reid, Andy Carroll (both ankle), Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) and Alou Diarra (ACL). 

Player to watch: Mo Diame (West Ham)

Played through the middle, plonked out wide on either wing and even shoved up front as a false nine, Diame has been the sacrificial lamb in Allardyce’s side while the Hammers continue to falter in attack. And after Morrison’s petulance it’s likely the Senegalese midfielder will slot in behind Carlton Cole at Anfield.
 
Though a more defensive player by trade, the all-action 26-year-old will likely be forced to shoulder the burden of West Ham’s creative input – and he’ll need to be on his game if they’re to get anything from the game. Against Palace the Hammers fired 11 efforts at goal but, as has been the case for much of the campaign, only 2 hit the target. But first Diame has to improve on this season’s dismal 79% pass completion rate. What he does have is a handy knack of driving forward in key areas, though – and that could shake the hosts. 

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • L'pool 0-0 W Ham (Prem, Apr 13)
  • W Ham 2-3 L'pool (Prem, Dec 12)
  • W Ham 3-1 L'pool (Prem, Feb 11)
  • L'pool 3-0 W Ham (Prem, Nov 10)
  • L'pool 3-0 W Ham (Prem, Apr 10)

The managers

Rodgers will be a happier man after Liverpool made up for their crummy display at Hull in style. They’re at Anfield once again this weekend, a ground on which the Reds have won all but one game this season and conceded just four goals. Big Sam, meanwhile, has had it rough. Frustrated with Carroll’s injury and West Ham’s subsequent inability to hit the net, the former Bolton man has resorted to playing Cole, the man he released in the summer, up front again.  
 
The duo have met only twice before, both last season when their sides fought out a draw at Anfield after Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Upton Park. 

Facts and figures

Tips and trends

TIPS & TRENDS

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  • Only Man City have scored more goals than Liverpool (30) so far.
  • Luis Suarez has more goals (13) than the whole of West Ham’s team and the Reds have 16 goals in their last 4 home matches.
  • Liverpool are seven places and 11 points better off than this stage last season and have recorded 7 W/W results in their last 10 at home.
  • West Ham have failed to beat Liverpool at Anfield since 1963, when Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst were playing for the Hammers. They have lost 29 of the subsequent 40 trips.
  • The Hammers have lost by 2 or more goals in half of their last 8 trips to top-six clubs and have scored just 6 times in their last 28 trips to Anfield, failing to score in their last 5.
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FourFourTwo prediction

Wins at home? Check. Goals? Check. Defensive diligence? Check. Can’t score-won’t score opponents? Check. All signs point to a Liverpool win without reply. 2-0. 

Liverpool vs West Ham LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone


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