WEST HAM host Liverpool on Wednesday night. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
West Ham v Liverpool | Wednesday 29th January 2020, 19:45
The only two sides yet to play each other in this season’s Premier League meet at the London Stadium on Wednesday night as former Everton manager David Moyes faces up against his old Merseyside rivals.
A number of statistical comparisons could be made about these two clubs but perhaps the most frightening of them all is that West Ham have incurred a net spend of around £60m more on transfers than Liverpool in the past five seasons, yet it’s pretty clear which club has a clear strategy about the players they are bringing to the club and is reaping the rewards for just that.
It’s hard to see Liverpool as anything other than champions elect, sitting 16 points of clear of nearest rivals Manchester City ahead of this game in hand and, even if Jurgen Klopp himself is not contemplating it, there’s a real possibility that his team could go the entire league season unbeaten.
Liverpool really are a special side, containing the perfect mix of pace, power and technical ability in every position and although they’ve ground out results in certain games, 22 wins out of 23 matches is a reflection of the world class level they having been performing at for the past year to 18 months.
Klopp was fortunate in being able to rest the majority of his star players in the FA Cup draw at Shrewsbury so they should be fresh and raring to go for the challenge of two Premier League games in the next few days before a two week winter break.
One key player that looks likely to miss the trip to the capital is Sadio Mane which may give an opportunity for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to play in a more advanced role. When presented with that chance this season, Chamberlain has thrived, scoring in both Champions League matchdays against Genk and in the trip to Bournemouth and therefore, the 5/4 available with PaddyPower on the England man registering one or more shots on-target looks a nice price.
Even if Chamberlain starts in the midfield rather than forward three, his shot-per-game numbers have him jut behind the Reds’ regular front three of Firmino, Salah and Mane which shows that confidence to get efforts on goal away is certainly not lacking. The same bet is 4/6 elsewhere so the PaddyPower lines represent some value.
Hammers remain in strife
On the other hand, watching West Ham’s season unfold, or unravel really, gives a sense of Deja Vue from years gone by.
I was watching a SkySports debate clip on YouTube the other day regarding the London club’s struggles and it took me five minutes to realise that it was a recording from March 2018 when the club was also in turmoil rather than from this past weekend. This perhaps highlights just how long the problems have persisted for – same manager (in his second spell), same unpopular owners, same perilous position in the Premier League table.
Accounts released by the club this week won’t have cheered many West Ham fans up, with the owners acknowledging that Premier League football is a necessity for the future welfare of the club, something that you certainly don’t want to hear when your team is sitting above the relegation zone on goal difference but it’s the hard truth in the context of years of failed investment from David Sullivan and Gold.
An unsustainable wage bill, falling attendances and a huge drop in TV revenues would hit the club hard should they drop down into the second tier so survival this season is imperative.
The 1-0 FA Cup defeat to West Brom looks bad on the face it but had the Championship side taken their chances, it could have been a whole lot worse and if the Hammers allow as many shots on goal in their last two games (30 in total) against Liverpool, they could be in for a long evening.
The cup loss may however end up being a blessing in disguise for an injury hit squad in helping focus minds on the relegation battle ahead, even if it soured the taste for over 50,000 home supporters in attendance on Saturday.
Reds to dominate from the off
Looking at how easily David Moyes’ troops have been carved open in the last two defeats, seemingly low on confidence, I’m happy to back Liverpool to lead early and be comfortable throughout.
Liverpool HT/FT is Evens with Coral, a price that is shortening, and it’s a selection that has landed in the Scouser’s last 10 Premier League matches.
The freshness of the away team, mixed with a toxic atmosphere at the London Stadium and Liverpool’s stupendous form are the reasons I am happy to put a few pounds behind this pick and should West Ham start in timid fashion, the fans could turn on their team very quickly indeed which will only play into Liverpool’s hands on a big pitch even more.
Although the last head-to-head nearly a year ago finished 1-1, one of many draws that cost Liverpool last season’s title, the previous four meetings saw Liverpool smash four goals past the Claret & Blues on each occasion and worryingly for the home side, you could argue the squads are even further apart now in terms of quality as they were then.
The Hammers have won just one of their last eight league games at home and all the factors point to another routine Liverpool win and a further step towards their first ever Premier League trophy.
West Ham v Liverpool – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 1+ Shot On Target (5/4 PaddyPower)
West Ham v Liverpool – Liverpool HT/FT (1/1 Coral)