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West Ham vs Liverpool: Premier League Preview and Pick

Liverpool(19-4-1) @ West Ham(9-4-11)

  • Where: London Stadium. London, UK
  • When: February 4, 2019 3:00 pm EST
  • Spread: West Ham (+1.5) vs Liverpool (-1.5)
  • Moneyline: West Ham (+700) vs Liverpool (-265) vs Draw (+425)
  • Over / Under: 3

There was a certain point on Wednesday when it looked as though Liverpool’s ship might have finally arrived.

The Reds were playing Leicester City, and a goal in the 3rd minute gave supporters at Anfield reason to dream big. Manchester City had surprisingly lost to Newcastle, leaving the door wide open for 1st-place Liverpool to stake a commanding lead in the trophy race. Protect and increase a 1-0 lead against Leicester? Not a problem!

In the meantime, Tottenham – perhaps the only other club with a real shot at catching Jürgen Klopp’s team – started the week 9 points out of 1st and missing a number of top stars on the front line. Spurs quickly fell behind 0-1 to Watford just as Liverpool was getting warmed up against Leicester.

Fortunes swayed in a dash. The Foxes somehow held Liverpool off the board for the remainder of 90+ minutes, forging a brave 1-1 draw following Harry Maguire’s goal at the tail end of the 1st half, and sticking the Reds with the loss of 2 prospective points.

Meanwhile, the superb Heung-Min Son of Spurs (home early from the Asian Cup) willed an untried forward line to a comeback 2-1 victory. Few Spurs strikes were finding the mark until the 26-year-old Korean blasted a goal past veteran keeper Ben Foster in the 80th minute.

Now Liverpool is feeling the stress. The Reds lead the Premier League with 61 points, but the dropped 2 points vs Foxes has caused a wrinkle in betting lines for a match at West Ham on Monday.

Still the Irons (or “Hammers”) are a (+1.5) dark horse on the goal spread and (+700) on the 3-way moneyline after dropping 3 matches in a row against beatable sides.

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Red Retreat

The draw with Leicester City makes Liverpool’s record 2-1-2 over the club’s last 5 matches, and serves as the 2nd time the Reds have under-performed against an underdog in January. Liverpool was also eliminated from the FA Cup by Wolves despite fielding a fairly strong lineup that included Fabinho and James Milner. Before that match, the visiting Reds lost 2-1 to City in league play.

Jürgen Klopp is expectant to see the free-flowing attacking game which succeeded over the final stretch of 2018. Liverpool will never be a stone-cold defending component despite the presence of Alisson (who did not appear in the FA Cup loss to Wolverhampton) between the posts.

Liverpool wants to play fast-moving football and score goals. There is all the talent in the world to do it with. Therefore, why the dry spell?

The skipper is blaming a horrible pitch for failed attacks, but maybe it’s just the natural ebb and flow of a star-studded offense that is the culprit.

There is nothing wrong with the squad’s efficiency. Liverpool is averaging 57% possession across all matches, and has landed an imposing 42% of attempted shots on target compared to just 34% of the average opponent’s shots. The addition of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool’s backline last January has added much-needed leadership to a young and vivacious group of defenders.

On the front line, the triumvirate of Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino will keep on provoking fear in every opposing keeper. Salah leads the Premier League with 16 goals in 2018-19.

Maybe it was a blunder for Klopp not to play his best lineup against Wolves in the FA Cup. Whenever a club has an air of boldness about it, it’s a tremendous competitive weapon. Now Liverpool is just a really good soccer team that seems as susceptible to the surprise loss as anyone.

It’s just a question of whether West Ham can be the next squad to properly confront the Reds.

Ham and Laid Eggs

The Hammers have been getting cooked. After picking up just 2 wins in January, West Ham went on to suffer an awkward 4-2 defeat against AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup 4th Round.

If the scene at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday was pure delight, the atmosphere at Kingsmeadow on Saturday was one of astonishment and adoration for the host Wombles.

Ladies were crying. Gentlemen with canes were hobbling very quickly to hug old friends.

But there are 2 sides to every sports story. Collectively with a hideous 0-2 loss to Cherries and Tuesday’s 0-3 result against Wolves, where does the last 2 weeks leave West Ham?

Skipper Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping that newcomer Samir Nasri is able to make a wave in the Hammers lineup. Nasri is working his way back into a Premier League lineup after an 18-month ban. Brazilian midfielder Felipe Anderson had an outstanding outing against Arsenal in the Hammers’ upset win on January 12th, managing to make 7 crosses during his 90+ minutes.

Declan Rice will be charged with humanizing the rampant Liverpool attack. But he’s only a kid. An imposing, slightly more-seasoned Issa Diop could further help the host club make a stand in front of keeper Łukasz Fabiański.

West Ham vs Liverpool: My Goal Spread Pick

Klopp will remind van Dijk and other backline players to defend first and let the attack come to them, given that the Reds are facing a frantic club on their home turf.

If Liverpool plays scientifically, then either the Hammers will press for the lead and forget how lethal the visitors can be on the counterattack, or sink back into the box and fail to play out from the back against an irritating Liverpool midfield.

Either way, the psychology and timing of seem to work in Liverpool’s favor.

I’m feeling a 2-0 or 3-0 win for the favorites.

 

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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