A new Premier League season has started and Liverpool are one of the main favorites to win the trophy. The Champions League finalists have a solid roster and with an experienced manager in charge, they are a force to be reckoned with. In the first match of the new season they take on West Ham, a team famous for causing major upsets last season. The Londoners play their best against top opponents and Liverpool is precisely the kind of team that motivates them.
In recent matches, Liverpool has played offensive football and scored 14 goals en route to winning four consecutive games. This winning streak is even more impressive given the quality of their opponents. In the last days of July, Liverpool defeated both teams from Manchester in the International Champions Cup. A narrow margin victory over Manchester City and the 4:1 thrashing of Manchester United were followed by back-to-back victories against Napoli and Torino this month.
During the winning streak, Liverpool conceded three goals and only once were they able to keep a clean sheet. Klopp will stick to the same starting formation and play offensive football against West Ham. The hosts have the quality to overpower their opponents, but preventing them from scoring will be difficult. That’s because the Londoners have scored in each of the last eight games and are undefeated in the last six. The campaign of friendly matches allowed them to rotate players and they are ready for Liverpool.
West Ham chose its opponents among second-tier teams, including football clubs from lower English leagues. At Anfield they will play against an opponent that is used to taking the initiative from the first minute. Liverpool’s strategy of scoring one more goal than the opponent occasionally backfires, but it is likely to work against West Ham.
Our Liverpool vs West Ham Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 West Ham
Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only player sidelined for this match, so Liverpool can use the best starting 11. Mane has scored in most of the friendly games and Mohamed Salah has returned to fitness. This means that Liverpool can afford to take more chances upfront and will come out firing on all cylinders. Only Manchester City caused them real troubles, as they defeated the other opponents by two goals or more. Klopp will stick to the same starting formation with three strikers, three midfielders and four defenders.
West Ham is not the kind of team to defend effectively on the road regardless of opponent. Surviving a 90 minute siege against Liverpool is a tall order and their best chance is to score on the counterattack. We believe that they will find a way to score once in this match, but that won’t be enough. Liverpool has so many options up front that the visitors won’t be able to neutralize all their offensive players. A narrow margin victory for the hosts is possible, but a win by two goals is even more likely.
Our recommended tip: Both to score
Liverpool are essentially an offensive team and they have the best manager for applying this kind of strategy. Mane, Salah, Sturridge and Firminho are just a few of the strikers that Klopp has at his disposal. They won’t be all on the pitch at the same time, but there’s a good chance for all of them to play against West Ham. With so much offensive talent, only a miracle can help the visitors to keep a clean sheet.
Our recommended betting tip on both teams to score depends more on the ability of the visitors to defeat Karius. This is the first official match for the goalkeeper after his awful performance in the Champions League final. His teammates made the goals conceded in friendly games go unnoticed, but the goalie still feels the pressure. This could be the case again against West Ham, as we expect the visitors to score.
Last season, West Ham earned the nickname of “Giants Killers”, especially in the first half of the Premier League. They defeated some of the best teams in the first flight, but their struggles at Anfield Road continued. Liverpool defeated them both at home and on the road by the same score 4:1. They were in complete control of the match and gave the Londoners no chance to claw their way back. It was still an improvement from the previous match that West Ham lost after conceding four unanswered goals.
Overall, Liverpool has a crushing record at home against West Ham, winning 13 nine out of 58 matches. They were only defeated three times and the last time that happened was in 2015. West Ham has a slight advantage in the games played in London, but that’s only a pale consolation ahead of this fixture. The silver lining is that they were able to score in four of the last five matches and did it twice in 2016. Recent results, suggest that West Ham is better at attacking than at protecting narrow leads.
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Players to watch: Mohamed Salah & Arnautovic
Liverpool scored 84 games last season and 32 of them were scored by Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian was the most prolific striker in the Premier League, having scored two more goals than Harry Kane. The injury suffered in the Champions League final has healed and Mohamed is back in form. He scored in the friendly games and created many more opportunities. Against West Ham, he will benefit from the support of the entire team and will spearhead the offensive. The Londoners can’t afford to leave him unguarded, but have so many other players to worry about.
West Ham fans are entitled to be concerned ahead of this fixture. If they assign two defenders to neutralize Salah, the other two strikers will remain unguarded. A better alternative to retreating in their own half is to use two strikers and take more chances upfront. Javi Hernandez will join Arnautovic, who was their top scorer last season. The Austrian player scored 11 times last season and was instrumental in the friendly games played in July and August. He won’t get too many opportunities to score, but he is a clinical striker who can convert the few chances he gets.