West Ham v Liverpool
Sunday 14 May, 14:15
Live on Sky Sports 1
Slaven Bilic was told by West Ham's owners last week that the team's performances in their final few home games would determine his future at the club. Victory last Friday over Tottenham, who until that point had been on their best league run in decades and were pushing Chelsea all the way in the title race, may well have gone some way to securing his stay.
The Croatian has not had it easy this season, with the move to a new stadium and the exit of star player Dimitri Payet both playing their part in stunting West Ham's progress under his stewardship. With two games to go, the club can still finish in the top half in what would surely have to be deemed a success given the circumstances.
The Hammers are now unbeaten in five, despite having a long injury list. Much of that recent form has been been put down to the switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation which has helped make the Londoners look more solid defensively: keeping four clean sheets in those five games. While goals are a problem at the other end (just four in the past six), Manuel Lanzini's industrious forward play was rewarded with the winner against Spurs. Bilic will be hoping for more of the same on Sunday.
Considering Liverpool have been without European football, their meandering finish to this season has been a bit of a disappointment, albeit not yet disastrous with wins in six of the past 10 games which keeping them firmly in the hunt for Champions League football next term.
But since the turn of the year, Jurgen Klopp's men have won seven of 17 Premier League games, picking up just 27 points from a possible 51. It is only because of Manchester City's, Manchester United's and Arsenal's failure to put a decent run together that Liverpool remain in third.
With this game against West Ham and a home fixture against relegated Middlesbrough to come, the Reds should still qualify for the Champions League but there may well be work for Klopp to do over the summer to avoid a more disappointing campaign next time around.
Roberto Firmino's absence from the starting line-up will be a blow to Liverpool. The Brazilian is one of the vital cogs in Klopp's machine, so often acting as first line of defence - and the initiator of fresh attacks - as the Reds press deep in opposition territory. While Daniel Sturridge is a fine player on his day, as he demonstrated last time out against Southampton, creating a goalscoring chance from nothing, he does not perform the same tasks as the man he is likely to replace on Sunday and Liverpool do not look the same team with him.
Firmino's injury plus the recent form of both sides makes it surprising the Reds are such short favourites here. As mentioned above, West Ham are unbeaten in five and have conceded just once in that time, while Liverpool have looked underwhelming in their goalless draw against Southampton, a narrow win over Watford and defeat at home to Crystal Palace in their last three outings.
West Ham have won their last two home meetings against Liverpool and are unbeaten in the past five fixtures between the two while the Reds have notoriously struggled in games against the smaller clubs this season.
West Ham can be backed at [5.7] and the draw at [4.1], but a good option here would be to lay Liverpool at [1.73].
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Another market that looks skewed when considering recent form is Over/Under 2.5 Goals. Both teams have been struggling to find the net over the past month or so. Liverpool have just two goals in their past four games (six in their last six on the road) while West Ham have just three in their past four.
In fact, the Hammers have hardly been in free-flowing form all season, scoring just 19 goals in 18 games at the London Stadium. Now that they have added solidity at the back - keeping three clean sheets in a row at home - backing Under 2.5 Goals looks too good an opportunity to miss at odds of [2.12].