Liverpool should succeed in trying to keep the gap open between themselves and Manchester City on Monday night, says Jasmine Baba...
"Even more concerning about Liverpool is that they've only kept one clean sheet in six, a consequence of their injury-hit defence."
West Ham v Liverpool
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
West Ham's inconsistent form has struck once again. After a very strong set of December results, winning five from seven and beating Arsenal at the beginning of January, they've lost three on the bounce.
Two of those defeats came in the league away to Bournemouth and Wolves, both of which are difficult to beat at their respective grounds, so they should take those losses with a pinch of salt.
However, the manner of which they lost to Wolves; conceding three goals and failing to register a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes, as well as their FA Cup defeat to League one outfit, AFC Wimbledon, should be cause for concern going into a match with the league leaders. Despite this, West Ham come into the gameweek only four points off seventh.
The Hammers could be handed some good news, as Lukasz Fabianski should return to the side after an arm injury. Both Marko Arnautovic and Aaron Cresswell could make Monday's game but both face late fitness tests. There is a blow as Samir Nasri will need at least a week more to return, which adds to their long list of absentees; a list that includes Jack Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez, Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini and Winston Reid.
A missed chance?
Liverpool missed a golden opportunity open the gap on title-chasing rivals Manchester City to seven points when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield by Leicester following City's 2-1 defeat at Newcastle.
Many thought it would be a straightforward day in the office after Sadio Mane put the hosts 1-0 up after three minutes, but the Foxes found their way through the hosts' defence rather easily on the right-hand side, with Jordan Henderson filling in for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Even more concerning about Liverpool is that they've only kept one clean sheet in six, a consequence of their injury-hit defence. Luckily James Milner returns from suspension and could feature in that right-back role, which would be a welcome relief to Henderson who really did struggle there in the last game.
The Reds are still five points clear at the top of the Premier League but cannot afford to blow another chance, should it arise, to extend their lead on the title over the defending champions especially against teams outside of the top six. They still have to go away to Old Trafford, and play Tottenham and Chelsea at home. Any other slip-ups could be fatal.
There are no fresh injury woes for Liverpool with Joe Gomez, Alexander-Arnold and Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain all still missing. Dejan Lovren did return to the bench against Leicester but has had a setback and will not be returning for this match.
Reds relish East London fixture
In recent years, Liverpool have had no problems facing West Ham and have won their last four Premier League matches against them, scoring exactly four times in each victory (0-4, 1-4, 1-4, 0-4).
The Hammers have conceded 18 goals in their 12 home league games this season and with the Reds scoring an average of 2.56 on their travels, they could easily put a couple away here too. Over 2.5 Goals is a fair [1.62].
Liverpool alone doesn't represent value
Although I fully expect Liverpool to win this one, I will not be backing them at [1.42]. The Premier League is notorious for unexpected results and I believe that's too short of a price for an away win especially when the Reds are playing a third-choice right-back. West Ham are [9.0] which will be fair if Arnautovic is ruled out of the clash.
Liverpool have the second best attack in the league and on top of that, a good record against West Ham. I'll be backing them to win and Over 3.5 Goals at 21/10.
The perfect pairing for goals
One thing that jumps out at me is that all seven of the Premier League goals conceded by West Ham in 2019 have been scored in the second half. This is perfect to partner Liverpool's scoring stat; 38 of their 55 goals have come at the same time. You can get Over 1.5 Goals in the Away Team Over/Under Second Half market at 6/4.
The league's top scorer (at time of writing), Mohamed Salah, will also be looking to make an impact and is 8/13 to score anytime at the London Stadium. Salah has been involved in five goals in three Premier League appearances against West Ham (four goals, one assist), and is probably worth doubling up with another selection or backing him to score a brace at 7/2.
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