With Liverpool short of fit centre-backs, Dan Fitch is backing early goals when the Premier League champions host West Ham...
"Over 1.5 goals has been successful in five of Liverpool's six Premier League games this season."
Liverpool 1.422/5 v West Ham 8.615/2; The Draw 5.59/2
Saturday 31 October, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Liverpool overcome difficulties
Liverpool have faced a lot of challenges over the past month, but come into the last match of October in solid form.
An EFL Cup exit was followed by a 7-2 thrashing by Aston Villa and then the injury to Virgil van Dijk. After a trio of escalating disappointments, Liverpool have done well to calm things down. Following the 2-2 draw with Everton in which Van Dijk was injured, Liverpool have won all three of the games they've played.
Liverpool have not been entirely convincing in those wins over Ajax, Sheffield United and Midtjylland, but considering the circumstances, results matter more than performances. They've put Liverpool top of their Champions League group and second in the Premier League, only behind Everton on goal difference.
Jurgen Klopp faces selection issues at centre-back. Fabinho has been playing there in the absence of Van Dijk, but picked up a hamstring injury against Midtjylland, at a time when Joel Matip is also out. Other injured Liverpool players include Tsimikas Konstantinos, Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Moyes deserves praise for surprising West Ham uplift
Despite a daunting set of fixtures to start the season, West Ham go into this game on a four match unbeaten run in the Premier League.
An opening day loss to Newcastle did not bode well, considering that their next six fixtures would see them exclusively face teams from the Premier League's top eight from last season. Yet after an away defeat at Arsenal, the Hammers beat both Wolves and Leicester, before drawing with Spurs and Manchester City.
There was some light-hearted mockery of the fact that this turn of form started when David Moyes was unable to attend matches when he was self-isolating, but the veteran coach deserves praise for the job he's done at West Ham. It was he that made the fruitful decision to use Michail Antonio as a striker and Moyes has also made some astute signings in recent months.
Another new signing could make his debut against Liverpool, with Said Benrahma likely to at least make the bench. The only injury worry for West Ham is a big one. Antonio has a persistent hamstring problem that has seen him substituted in each of his last two appearances.
Little value for Liverpool amidst selection worries
Liverpool are the 1.422/5 favourites, with the draw at 5.59/2 and West Ham out at 8.615/2.
A lot rests on injury news here. Liverpool are down to the bare bones in central defence, while Antonio would be a huge loss for West Ham, though reports claim that the striker will be able to play.
With such uncertainty, it's hard to come to much of a conclusion regarding the match result markets, other than the fact that Liverpool don't provide much value at these prices. Depending on team news, the draw could be worth backing at 5.59/2.
Goals look reliable
The obvious place to turn for some value is in the goals markets. West Ham have now scored in each of their last five Premier League games, finding the net twelve times in total. Liverpool have only kept one clean sheet in six Premier League appearances and have already conceded 14 times.
Both teams to score is not a huge price at 1.674/6, but it looks likely to land. Over 1.5 first-half goals is 2.35/4 and has been successful in five of Liverpool's six Premier League games this season.
Mohamed Salah is the favourite to score at 1.84/5, but there could be better value to be found with his teammate Sadio Mane at 2.111/10, who has scored in his last four matches against West Ham. Antonio is 3.55/2 to score for the Hammers.
Dan Fitch 2020/21 Season P/L
Staked: 181.00 pts
Returned: 186.77 pts
P/L: +5.77 pts
Back over 1.5 first-half goals between Liverpool and West Ham at 2.35/4
Back Mane to score for Liverpool against West Ham at 2.111/10