Liverpool vs West Ham | Saturday 5th March 2022, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Jurgen Klopp saw his side complete the Quadruple in midweek – albeit just over Norwich City for now – with the unfortunate Canaries drawing the Reds in both domestic cup competitions this season adding a 5th Round FA Cup exit to the 3rd Round EFL Cup demise at Carrow Road back in September – a competition the Merseyside club went on to win of course, lifting the trophy only last weekend.
After one of the best 0-0's I have witnessed, a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea which saw all 11 Liverpool players who completed the match hit the target, secured the first trophy of the season meaning a far more historic Quadruple is still possible.
Those two victories in the last seven days have extended Liverpool’s winning streak to 11 games and have managed a taxing week well with Klopp sealing his first Quarter Final appearance in England’s premier cup competition after making 10 changes between both ties.
In contrast David Moyes only made two changes to his starting line up from their 1-0 win over Wolves for their FA Cup trip to Southampton but following a 3-1 defeat on the South Coast admitted his side did not do well enough to get through against a much-changed Saints outfit.
The Hammers have had a fantastic season and to be in the mix for a top four finish sitting in fifth but just two points adrift of Manchester United directly above them, is testament to the work being done at the London Stadium.
It does feel though that they have just gone off the boil a little, with the aforementioned narrow win over the men from Molineux coming after Bruno Lage had handed them the initiative by rotating Raul Jimenez, Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho to the bench in making five changes to the side that suffered a stoppage time defeat to Arsenal only a three days earlier.
At face value West Ham’s away form looks respectable – after all only five sides have collected more points than their 21 from 13 road trips – winning six, however not one of those victories (Newcastle, Leeds, Everton, Villa, Watford, Palace) has come against a side in the top half of the table.
Three of their four away defeats were against sides currently in the top six – Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City with the other coming against eighth placed Wolves – furthermore, three of those defeats came to nil (available at 5/4 here) with the exception being thanks to a 94th minute consolation strike from Manuel Lanzini at the Etihad.
The Irons also have a dreadful record when visiting Anfield, having won only once in their last 48 appearances there – losing 35 while the hosts are yet to taste defeat in 21 (W16, D5, L0) games across all competitions in front of the Kop this season, winning each of their last eight home EPL games with nine of their ten victories coming by two or more goals.
As you would expect the Liverpool win is prohibitively priced, as short as 1/4 – but we can get that outcome onside by looking at a couple of other areas in which the Reds excel.
Only title rivals Manchester City have taken more corners at home in the league than Liverpool – with their first flag kick on Saturday evening set to be their 100th – they currently average 7.62 per game at Anfield and have taken 201 overall from 26 games at 7.73 – taking six or more in 18 of those (69%) with the same percentage in front of their own fans (9 of 13).
The Reds are of course renowned for playing with lots of width, and with both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson rested for the midweek win over Norwich we should see more of the same here with 73% of Liverpool attacks at home in the EPL this season coming down either flank (33% left, 40% right) resulting in a high number of throw ins.
Liverpool average 21 throw ins per league game this season – they have taken 20 or more in seven of their last 10 home games – missing out with 17 against Arsenal, 19 versus Leicester and 11 in the league fixture with Norwich when both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson were once again rested.
I’m taking a fairly aggressive play here at odds of 3/1 with Bet 365 for Liverpool to win, take over 5 corners and over 19.5 throw-ins – those lines can be lowered if your taste is for a more cautious approach.
We should see both Mo Salah and Sadio Mane restored to the starting eleven for this one after being omitted from the squad and dropping to the bench respectively for the midweek Cup tie – but it is the man who should complete that fearsome front three that I will be focusing on.
I am thrilled to be able to see Luis Diaz in action more regularly now following his January move from Porto – and although I was expecting great things from him, I also thought he may take some acclimatisation, needing to be eased in – how wrong I was.
The 25-year-old could well have been lining up in claret and blue in this clash with David Moyes revealing his club were “quite far down the line” to signing him before Liverpool brought their summer window plans forward and swooped clinching a deal which could reportedly end up being worth £50m.
Diaz has slotted in seamlessly on the left side of the front three, taking his opportunity with injuries befalling both Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota – he has looked excellent in each of his four starts as well as his three cameos from the bench, having the confidence to express himself, showcasing his creativity and seemingly already gelling with the rest of the team.
Dubbed as the biggest story in Colombian football since James Rodriguez signed for Real Madrid in 2014, he has certainly caught the eye of those who were not already aware of him and certainly has shown how he likes to pull the trigger – already opening his account with his sides third goal in the league encounter with – you guessed it – Norwich, and that is the area we will be looking to exploit with our final two bets.
Diaz made an eye-catching debut in the FA Cup against Cardiff without taking a shot but since then had two attempts in his 31 minutes against Inter in the UCL Round of 16 and four attempts in the EFL Cup final on Sunday – coming off the bench with 84 minutes on the clock against Norwich on Wednesday, he still found time for two attempts at goal and looking at his three EPL appearances he has fired in four shots in each of them.
From a total of three starts and four substitute appearances, the 5ft 10” livewire has clocked up 429 minutes of action, taking 20 shots, which is one every 21 minutes, or 4.2 shots per 90, of those 20 attempts he has hit the target with eight – one every 54 minutes or 1.7 shots on target per 90.
Diaz has managed 4 or more shots in every game he has started so far and William Hill are offering odds of 13/10 he does so again against the Hammers – they are odds I am happy to take especially with a doubt surrounding the availability of Tomas Soucek because of his stitches in the head wound he picked up at Southampton, impacting West Ham’s defensive solidity and cutting off the supply line to that lethal front three.
Liverpool vs West Ham – Luis Diaz Over 3 Shots (13/10 William Hill)
Liverpool vs West Ham – Luis Diaz Over 1 Shot On Target (13/10 William Hill)
Liverpool vs West Ham – Liverpool to win, Over 5 Liverpool Corners, Over 19.5 Liverpool Throw-Ins (3/1 Bet 365)