Jan 29, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
West HamWest Ham United
FT(HT: 0-1)
Salah (35' pen.), Oxlade-Chamberlain (52')

Preview: West Ham United vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: West Ham United vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:387729: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews Wednesday night's Premier League clash between West Ham and champions-elect Liverpool, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.
By , Editor | 24d

Liverpool will be looking for a response to their logic-defying 2-2 draw with League One Shrewsbury Town when they visit the London Stadium to face West Ham United on Wednesday night.

Jurgen Klopp's side have been almost faultless in the league so far this season but were stunned by lower-league opposition at the weekend, giving a glimmer of hope to an out-of-form West Ham side.

Match preview

Klopp may have made 11 changes to his side for Sunday's FA Cup tie at Montgomery Waters Meadow, but his disappointment at the final result was clear to see as Liverpool threw away a two-goal lead against a team that simply seemed to want it more.

There were signs in the first half that an upset might be possible, with Adrian making two fine stops to keep the hosts at bay, but Donald Love's calamitous own goal just 28 seconds into the second half appeared to wrap things up for the Reds.

Jason Cummings had other ideas, though, and his brace has now earned Shrewsbury a dream replay at Anfield - a huge occasion for one club but an unwelcome extra match for the other.

Indeed, Klopp has already confirmed his intention to follow a similar path to the one which led to Liverpool's EFL Cup exit in the replay, playing an Under-23 side with Neil Critchley in charge rather than making his first-team players - and himself - cancel their plans for the winter break.

It is a controversial but clear sign that the Premier League is far and away Liverpool's priority now, and even with a 16-point lead which could be increased to 19 at the London Stadium on Wednesday, Klopp is taking no risks on that front.

For everyone outside Liverpool, the destination of the title now seems like a foregone conclusion; last Thursday's 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers saw Liverpool overcome one of their toughest remaining hurdles to make it 67 points from a possible 69 this season, and 94 points from the last 96 on offer stretching back to the 2018-19 campaign.

Such relentless form is unprecedented in any of Europe's top divisions, and Liverpool's league winning streak now stands at 14 - once again within sight of Manchester City's record which they saw denied by Manchester United in their only draw of the campaign.

The unbeaten run is now 40 league games - the joint second-longest in Premier League history - and a look at the upcoming fixtures shows no sign of that ending before they have the chance to equal Arsenal's tally of 49 at the Etihad Stadium on April 4.

The title could well be officially wrapped up by then too, with seven of Liverpool's next eight games coming against teams currently in the bottom half of the table, and the only exception being a Southampton side which has also been battling relegation for much of the season.

Indeed, with two games against West Ham in quick succession, five of Liverpool's next six league outings come against the current bottom four, making it even more difficult to imagine the possibility of them dropping the 16 points required in their 15 remaining games.

Wednesday's contest will be their game in hand after it was initially postponed for the Club World Cup, and so there is not even the chance for the distant chasing pack to close the gap if Liverpool do slip up, although the formbook suggests that will not be the case anyway.

West Ham were well beaten by a Leicester City side short of top-scorer Jamie Vardy in their last league outing, and then suffered an even more disappointing defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion in the cup - Slaven Bilic returning to his former club and leading the 10-man Championship high-fliers to a 1-0 win.

The Hammers have now lost 13 of their last 20 games across all competitions, and since the start of October no team has gained fewer points or lost more games in the top flight than David Moyes's side.

Such a torrid run has left them lingering perilously close to the relegation zone, only outside the bottom three on goal difference. Should Liverpool win by four goals on Wednesday night then West Ham would slip below Bournemouth on the wrong side of the dotted line, while an even heavier defeat would see them sink to 19th.

For a team that has already conceded 38 goals this season that is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, particularly with West Ham also owning the joint-worst home record in the division.

Reasons for optimism ahead of this match are few and far between, then, but the Hammers may take some belief from the fact that they have already beaten Manchester United and Chelsea in the league this season.

Liverpool are a different proposition entirely, though, and with only one home win in any competition since that triumph over United it is difficult to see them being the team to halt the Merseyside juggernaut.

Then again, the same would have been said about Shrewsbury and, while Liverpool will be back to full strength and demanding a response in this one, that latest sprinkle of FA Cup magic could help to give the underdogs some inspiration on Wednesday night.

West Ham Premier League form: LLWLDL
West Ham form (all competitions): WWLDLL

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWWWD

Team News

Liverpool will once again be without Sadio Mane, who picked up a hamstring injury during the win over Wolves last Thursday.

The winger is also a doubt for this weekend's meeting with Southampton due to a "small muscle tear", but the injury is not as serious as first feared and he should be ready to return after the winter break.

James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne remain sidelined for the visitors, while Xherdan Shaqiri is a major doubt and Adam Lallana will be assessed having struggled with illness this week.

Recent injury absentees Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Fabinho all started against Shrewsbury at the weekend and are available again for this match, although the latter is the only one likely to keep his place from that trio.

The absence of Mane could also mean that either Divock Origi or Takumi Minamino start, but other than that it is likely to be wholesale changes from Klopp as he welcomes back a host of first-team stars.

West Ham only made four changes for their FA Cup defeat to West Brom, with Moyes's options limited by a lengthy injury list.

Lukasz Fabianski, Felipe Anderson, Ryan Fredericks, Andriy Yarmolenko and Jack Wilshere are all sidelined, while Robert Snodgrass and Arthur Masuaku are doubts and will be assessed ahead of kickoff.

Captain Mark Noble, Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna are among the players expected to come back into the starting lineup after all three were called upon at half time on Saturday.

West Ham possible starting lineup:
Randolph; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Lanzini, Rice, Noble; Antonio, Haller

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Origi

Head To Head

Liverpool have enjoyed themselves in this fixture recently, scoring 19 goals during a six-match league unbeaten run which stretches back to January 2016.

West Ham did hold the Reds to a draw in the corresponding fixture last season, though, taking points off Liverpool which proved costly to their title challenge in the end.

Those were Liverpool's first dropped points at the London Stadium, having previously won both visits while scoring four each time.

We say: West Ham 0-2 Liverpool

The hiccup against Shrewsbury aside, Liverpool have been unstoppable of late and there are very few signs to suggest that run will end here. Klopp will be demanding a response from his side and, with a host of rested star names ready to return, he is likely to get it too.

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last updated article - 2020-01-28 18:02:28:
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