Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Liverpool
- Liverpool haven’t failed score away from home in the league in 2014, with 33 goals in their last 11 away matches.
- Sam Allardyce’s side are still looking for their first clean sheet of the season in all competitions. They have failed to keep a clean sheet in 15 of their last 16 league matches.
- Mario Balotelli has scored just one goal in his last 18 Premier League appearances. (BBC Sport)
On NBC this Saturday, two sides that will clash against each other at 12:30 p.m. ET are not boasting a completely different outlook of their latest results. Liverpool, although they haven’t lost two league competitions in a row since December 2013, could be in danger of falling down that path following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa last week. West Ham are winless in their past two PL matches, notching a 2-2 draw vs. Hull City and succumbing to Southampton in a 3-1 loss.
Liverpool sit at eight place in the standings, while West Ham occupies thirteenth place right now.
Brendan Rogers hasn’t been able to delight in a healthy squad this year, but take into account the Reds recent history at Boleyn Ground, where Liverpool edged Sam Allardyce’s side 2-1 during an exceptional 11-game victorious streak. It was Steven Gerrard who buried the penalty kick to give his squad the advantage in this contest. In fact, the captain has been very successful against the Hammers on the road, counting six of his seven Premier League goals scored vs. West Ham at their home grounds. With star striker Daniel Sturridge looking to miss a third consecutive match, the 34-year-old midfielder and Mario Balotelli will feel the heat to produce offensively.
West Ham hoped to bolster their opportunity this year with a few summer signings, including the acquisition of midfielder Alex Song on loan from Barcelona. Former Lazio forward Mauro Zarate and Equador’s Enner Valencia also came help Allardyce breed consistency in 2014-15, and viewers should keep an eye on both of these players v. Liverpool. The Hammers’ defense hasn’t been capable of totaling a clean sheet so far this year, and they will hope that if Alex Song can make his debut, his stout defensive ability will help strengthen their chances as a whole.
What they’re saying:
Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers on Aston Villa defeat (Goal.com): “Against Villa we weren’t at our level in the final third and Villa defended well. We moved on from that, got a great result [against Ludogorets] and the perspective after a couple of days makes it a good result. We showed the character and the mental qualities that successful teams have to come through and win the game, something we’ll look to take into the weekend.”
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce on his squad’s form and expectations v. Liverpool (Sky Sports): “We were pleased with the performance, but not the ultimate result (the 2-2 draw with Hull). The three points would have been very valuable to us with the fixtures we have coming up.The big question mark for us now is whether we can get anything against Liverpool to stop that run of poor results. That is clearly what we have to do against one of the big boys.”
Match absences: Andy Carroll (ankle), Matt Jarvis (thigh), Joey O’Brien (knee) and Kevin Nolan (shoulder) will not play for the Hammers due to injury issues. Meanwhile, defender Martin Skrtel looks set to make an appearance after getting past a knee injury that’s kept him off the field for three games. Glen Johnson (thigh) is essentially regarded as “out” at this point, and Jon Flanagan has received knee surgery to sideline him for multiple months.
Prediction: Injury-depleted or not, Liverpool is the more skilled team, and after losing to Aston Villa 1-0, one can guess that the Reds will be hungry to strike back with a bang, taking care of business on the road against Allardyce’s pesky squad. It’s not a very simple victory for Rogers, however. 3-2, Liverpool win.