WILL DYER (@w2dyer) takes a peek at Liverpool's trip to the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Can the Reds recover from two recent home failures and a lifeless performance at Watford with a win here?
West Ham v Liverpool | Sunday 14:15 | Sky Sports 1
West Ham’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham last Friday all but ended the title race. The Hammers performed admirably against a side that’s mostly steamrollered their opposition this season, getting the tactics right throughout the side.
It’s been a rather tumultuous first year at the London stadium. Slaven Bilic has overseen a campaign that’s been peppered with mini-successes but overall a below-par finish is on the cards. They’ve lost their star man to Marseille but also sorted out some deadwood and now appear to be back on the right track.
It was a much-needed win for Slaven Bilic. Despite a turn in fortunes prior to the win, they are still in 12th spot and fans were expecting the club to build upon last season’s success. Nevertheless, it’s now four clean sheets in five after a run of five straight defeats, an impressive turnaround.
As for Liverpool, they failed again, this time at home to Southampton. Saints kept a clean sheet at Anfield for the second time this year and Jurgen Klopp resorted to blaming the dryness of the pitch, a ludicrous excuse.
Prior to defeat to Crystal Palace and the bore draw last time out, I had been a fan of Liverpool’s progress this season. The Reds have certainly built upon last year but tame performances and the lack of a plan B when faced with a well-drilled defensive outfit have reared their ugly head fair too often.
There have been some pretty inept decisions made on players coming and going from the club, even under Klopp.
Mamadou Sakho has shown in his short stint at Crystal Palace that his exclusion from the Liverpool first team this year was a mistake and I wonder where they would be right now if he’d been a first choice centre back this term.
Reds Under Pressure
Arsenal, Man City and Manchester United, who all have a game in hand at time of writing, now have the chance to put pressure on the Reds for their prime Champions League spot; worrying times for Liverpool who have not coped well under these kind of circumstances for the last decade.
The Irons have a knack for getting themselves up for games against the big clubs and I expect hosting Liverpool will be no different. Jonathan Calleri and Manuel Lanzini pulled the strings for them against Spurs and so the Reds will require a packed central midfield to quash a repeat of that.
The Hammers have nothing but pride to play for but after this below average season, the fans will be keen on them backing up the win over Tottenham with another top performance. The London stadium is not so much of a cauldron as the Boleyn was but it won’t be an easy place for the Reds to succeed.
Hammer it Home
Liverpool have won their last three successive away games against West Brom, Stoke and Watford. Three tricky fixtures, although the win at Watford was nothing to be proud of. It’s actually now their home form that’s letting them down.
All told, the background and recent form for this fixture makes for a tough game to predict.
Of late, the Reds have not been as free flowing as we’d come to expect and enjoy earlier in the season. In seven of their last 11 away games in all competitions, they’ve scored exactly one goal.
It’s also three years since they scored more than one goal away at West Ham in regular time; the last three results being a 1-1 draw and 2-0 and 3-1 defeats. After this upturn in form for the hosts, I can’t be backing Liverpool at 7/10 (Betfair).
Instead, I’m backing ‘Home or Draw and Yes’ at 13/5 with Betfair in the great ‘Double Chance and Both Teams To Score’ market. This covers the following probable outcomes for us; 1-1, 2-2, 2-1, 3-1 plus the less likely heavier West Ham wins and high scoring draws.
The fact that I expect Liverpool to score but not run away with this game makes that 13/5 quote look a really attractive price.
West Ham vs Liverpool – Home or Draw and Yes – Double Chance and Both Teams To Score (13/5 Betfair)