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West Ham United vs. Liverpool: Match Preview, Team News, and Ways to Watch

Can Liverpool start 2016 in the same way they ended 2015?

Clive Mason/Getty Images

It's a brand new year, one which will be full of Jürgen Klopp. There will be no change of management, no speculation on whether the club is in the right hands, and no doubt surrounding the club. It's 2016 and Jürgen Klopp is in charge. The task for Liverpool this year is to fully understand and be immersed in the methods of one of Europe's best managers. Winning away to West Ham United would be a fine way to begin proceedings. Benteke to secure three points once again?

Liverpool's two clean sheets were instrumental in narrow but deserved victories over Leicester City and Sunderland. The Reds are level with Manchester United but remain five points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth. The teams from fifth to tenth in the Premier League are separated by only two points, and Liverpool sit only one point above Slaven Bilić's side in a league where only Sunderland and Aston Villa seem cut off from the teams ahead of them.

Injuries still ebb and flow for Liverpool, but Jon Flanagan made his first competitive appearance in 19 months for the under-21s. Jordan Henderson joined James Milner on the midfield injury list after the captain lasted just over an hour in the victory over his former club. Joe Allen should return to the squad after missing the last Premier League game of 2015 through illness. Liverpool's midfield options, therefore, are reduced to three in Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva, and Emre Can. Jordan Rossiter shouldn't be too far away from a return to action.

Daniel Sturridge has declared himself fit, but Liverpool fans will naturally be sceptical of counting the striker among those available for action just yet is ruled out as he makes his way back to full fitness. Divock Origi's hamstring injury rules him out for three weeks, which leaves Christian Benteke unchallenged up front. Martin Škrtel is out until February, but the form of Dejan Lovren will ensure that Škrtel will almost certainly return to sit on the bench and function as a rotational piece when needed.

West Ham can count on the excellent Dimitri Payet once again after the Frenchman returned to full training. Payet's injury in November robbed West Ham of a talismanic presence, and while the Hammers have shown resilience in his absence, victories have been much harder to come by. Manuel Lanzini is in line for a start after making his comeback from injury in the win over Southampton. Aaron Cresswell, a key defender for the London side, might recover in time from a muscle problem.

Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-2-3-1):

Clyne / Lovren / Sakho / Moreno
Lucas / Can
Ibe / Firmino / Coutinho

Maybe Jordon Ibe comes in for Adam Lallana or Roberto Firmino, but there aren't too many changes Klopp can make right now with long-term and recent injuries. Lucas Leiva is almost certain to come in for Jordan Henderson, but a trip to Upton Park isn't the occasion for heavy rotation when momentum is beginning to build. In-form Stoke City cast a shadow over this fixture as Liverpool travel to the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. Maybe the FA Cup game against Exeter will be the right time for a mixture of young reserves and experienced first-team players.

West Ham beat Liverpool handsomely in August and have two extra days to prepare for Liverpool's visit. The return of Payet and Lanzini should give Bilić creativity from kick-off and the bench, which should lift the home side. West Ham are undefeated in seven games at home in the Premier League; Leicester and AFC Bournemouth were the last sides to win at the Boleyn Ground all the way back in August. A run of eight games without a win, however, that was ended against Southampton should give Klopp's side confidence that at least a point can be taken back up to Merseyside.

West Ham were quite a creative side before Payet's injury but have tightened up to find points in his absence with a series of goalless and low-scoring draws. Andy Carroll is set to continue up front, which will be an interesting test for Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren. If Liverpool can contain his threat, prevent the likes of Lanzini and Michail Antonio drifting inside to feed off second balls, match a physically dynamic midfield, and cause frustration in a crowd that can be prone to impatience, three points could be on offer. The attacking understanding could make a forward step, and to be honest, work in the final third needs to improve in order to secure victory tomorrow.

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Kickoff is set for 12:45PM GMT/7:45AM EST tomorrow, with coverage from LFCTV GO online for subscribers across the globe, BT Sport 1 in the UK, and NBC Sports Live Extra in the US. We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.

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