West Ham vs. Liverpool
| Monday, February 4th |
Premier League | London Stadium
8PM GMT / 3PM EST
Now that Arsenal have dutifully Arsenalled, the marathon continues, as Liverpool attempt to re-extend their advantage over Manchester City with a visit to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side opened the season with a visit to Anfield, following a summer of promise during which West Ham recruited aggressively, signing Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop, Andrii Yarmolenko, and Jack Wilshere, among many others. It was not an auspicious beginning, as the Reds scored four without reply, answering the eternal question of “who hammers the Hammers?”
Things have gone reasonably better for West Ham since that day, and they now sit comfortably in the middle of the table, notching victories over the likes of Arsenal and Everton along the way, while also dropping points against Brighton and Bournemouth. Despite their uneven form, however, West Ham are currently a very different proposition compared to the team that showed up to Anfield on the first day of the season.
As always for any club, injuries might be a telling factor in this encounter. Pellegrini has to work around a pretty grim list of ailing players at this time. Samir Nasri, Manuel Lanzini, Andrii Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Winston Reid, Carlos Sánchez and Fabian Balbuena among others are all expected to miss the Liverpool encounter, while want-away/wont-away Marko Arnautovic will likely face a game time decision.
On the more positive side of the ledger, the impressive Declan Rice and Felipe Anderson will almost certainly feature alongside veteran stalwarts Mark Noble and Pablo Zabaleta.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Fabinho; Mané, Firmino, Salah
The Reds continue to have their own troublesome injury issues. The reappearance of Dejan Lovren’s hamstring complaint comes at a not particularly good time for Jürgen Klopp, with Trent Alexander-Arnold not quite ready for first team training yet and Joe Gomez still disturbingly suffering from a fracture that may require surgery.
James Milner will, however, return from suspension and nobody should be surprised if he slots in at right back again in place of Alexander-Arnold. The main question in midfield is whether one of Naby Keïta or Xherdan Shaqiri might get a rare start following the drab performance against Leicester City. If the answer’s “no,” Fabinho might reappear in the middle alongside Jordan Henderson, who could make his 300th Premier League appearance.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, we’ll likely see the usual suspects up front for Liverpool. They’ll have a tricky job ahead of them on the road, and if the flatline tempo that pervaded long spells of the Leicester City match resurfaces, that five-point lead over City might just get a little narrower.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “We started the season against West Ham with a brilliant game from us and not a very good game from West Ham. That day they had a lot of new players, a new manager and all that stuff, and we were strong. That made life quite uncomfortable.”
“Then they still had a couple of weeks where they really had to find [something] together. But they did it and now they are one of the strongest teams. It was a really bad start; since then they are nearly a top-six side. And that’s what we should expect. The most experienced manager, I think, in the Premier League at the moment; a really good football team; really good signings in defence.”
Manuel Pellegrini: “Of course we can beat Liverpool on Monday because every team can win every match in the Premier League. I don’t know if they are nervous because I was not there in midweek. It will depend on their performance rather than the nerves.”
“We want to beat Liverpool. We cannot play on nerves because they have top players who can change the game at any time. We need to play at high pace like we did at home to Arsenal and Manchester United and other clubs.”
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistant referees: Matthew Wilkes, Simon Beck
Fourth official: Graham Scott
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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 the action as it happens.