Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
West Ham, whose recent performances have been described as “disastrous” and “impossible to play worse” by no less a critic than their own manager, have the not inconsiderable task of taking on league leaders Liverpool. With the visitors keen to stretch their two-point lead at the top, there will be some anxiety on both sides but, crucially, Liverpool have better players to help them overcome it.
Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini has endured a difficult first season in the London Stadium hot seat. The team lost their first four games of the season – including against this very opponent on the opening day – and their only win in the Premier League since 2019 started was a surprise 1-0 home victory over Arsenal. Liverpool are very clear favourites here, of that there can be no doubt – but could the hosts spring another shock?
West Ham vs Liverpool Prediction: West Ham 0-2 Liverpool
West Ham are probably safe from relegation – which is just as well, given their recent displays. However, one has to wonder if fearing for their Premier League status would at least generate performances better than the fayre they’ve been serving up in the last few weeks. In particular, the Hammers have been blunt in front of goal, and even though Liverpool have shown some vulnerabilities – including in drawing 1-1 at home with Leicester – Pellegrini’s men look ill-equipped to expose those weaknesses tonight. The visitors could win this one without really getting out of first gear.
Our recommended tip: Mo Salah FGS
A hat-trick for Sergio Aguero this past weekend means that it’s getting crowded at the top of the Premier League goalscoring chart but, for a second consecutive season, it’s Mo Salah in the lead. The implausibly graceful wide forward set the ball rolling in the sides’ previous meeting, and with odds of 11/4 (3.75) available at Dafabet, he’d be a good bet to grab the game’s first goal here. Salah is a rare kind of player, who can score from anywhere at any time, and against a West Ham side with rock-bottom confidence he’ll hope to profit here.
Based on recent meetings between the sides, West Ham could give their opponents a call, offer them a 4-0 win and get on with preparing for their next game – it would save everyone the bother of playing through 90 minutes to achieve that result. Unbelievably, Liverpool have scored exactly four goals on each of the last four occasions these sides have met. Most recently, a 4-0 win on the first weekend of the season gave Liverpool the ideal start to a campaign that has continued in positive shape ever since. After Salah had opened the scoring, fellow forwards Sadio Mane (2) and Daniel Sturridge also helped themselves to goals.
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Players to watch: Declan Rice & Alisson
Rice has been in the news for much of this season having decided – after playing in a few friendlies for Ireland – that he wants to take time before committing to an international side. The attention that has been spent on that sideshow has meant people are missing the bigger picture about this defensive midfielder. In among the many – much more expensively-acquired – failures in West Ham’s squad this season, Rice has looked increasingly impressive, developing into a complete midfield player.
Alisson has played a large part in Liverpool’s defensive renaissance this season, with his saves playing a full part in the club’s league leading defensive record (just 14 goals conceded). However, he has also shown signs of being a little too impetuous from time to time, and will need to keep his concentration for 90 minutes here. It may be tough – West Ham did not work Wolves ‘keeper Rui Patricio even once in last week’s game – but the Brazilian needs to remember that his flicks and tricks are great when his side’s already three goals ahead – they’re much less fun for fans when the game’s close.