What a difference a year makes. This time last year, this fixture was one of four slip-ups that cost Jurgen Klopp’s men the Premier League title. 12 months later, however, and this is just another game in Liverpool’s title procession. Let’s take a look at the three best bets for the game at the London Stadium and hopefully come out with a bit of green in the pocket:
Liverpool don’t look like they’re going to drop points and the moment and the only question that remains about their Premier League season is whether they can go unbeaten and emulate the Arsenal team of 2003/04.
There is only a handful of teams that can beat them and it is fair to say that West Ham are not one of them.
Their new-manager bounce under David Moyes has been remarkably short-lived, and they now look in real danger of going down.
Since beating Bournemouth on New Year’s Day, they have lost twice away from home and claimed a solitary point at home in a draw against Everton. They were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side West Brom after they had barely avoided an upset at League One side Gillingham.
If Liverpool can beat David Moyes’ side on Wednesday, they will have beaten every team in the league this season – a remarkable achievement for January. There doesn’t appear to be much hope for the Hammers on Wednesday who have a much more important and winnable game at home to Brighton just three days later. It may be a case of picking their battles.
With Sadio Mane missing for Liverpool, the buck falls to Bobby Firmino and Mohamed Salah to provide a spark up front. Of the two, Firmino looks the more likely to hit the back of the net. He boasts an unusually poor record at Anfield, failing to score there all season, but his record on the road is far more impressive.
To date, Firmino has struck ten times away from Anfield this season and he has been one of Liverpool’s most important players. The Brazilian struck a brilliant winner at Molineux last Thursday and he is arguably the best number nine in the league in the way he links play and creates chances for others.
At odds against, he is good value to bag another away goal on Wednesday.
If West Ham’s recent defending is anything to go by, this could be a high-scoring affair. The Hammers’ marking was slack in the extreme for West Brom’s only goal in their FA Cup defeat on Saturday, while they coughed up a plethora of chances in their 4-1 defeat against Leicester last week. Their clean sheet against Bournemouth, who themselves were in freefall, was their only home clean sheet in the league since September.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have a surprisingly average record in front of goal this season. Their goals for record is far inferior to that of Manchester City and they’ve only scored two more goals than Leicester have managed in the league this year.
It’s a testament to their character that they have won each of their last five games without scoring more than two goals because they were all potential banana skins and another team might have wilted under the pressure.
They may just let loose against a decidedly porous West Ham defence though, and despite Mane’s absence, I think we might see a bit of a goal rush on Wednesday.