Sunday, March 18, 2018

Liverpool v West Ham: History counts for nothing, says Bilic

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Aug 2015


Slaven Bilic insists that West Ham’s dismal record at Liverpool will count for nothing when he takes his side to Anfield on Saturday.

West Ham have not taken maximum points from the red half of Merseyside since September 1963, when Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst scored in a 2-1 win.

In their 41 visits to Anfield since, the Hammers have lost 31 times – most recently back in January, when Liverpool ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.

Brendan Rodgers’ men also head into the clash in good form, having taken seven points from their opening three Premier League fixtures without conceding a goal.

West Ham, meanwhile, got their season off to a flyer by winning 2-0 at Arsenal, but back-to-back home defeats to Leicester City and Bournemouth have tempered the optimism surrounding Bilic’s appointment.

While acknowledging the size of the task awaiting his team this weekend, Bilic is confident the east London club can defy the form book and history to spring a shock.

“They are a tough team and have seven points. They have not scored so many goals but have not conceded many. The results are different,” the former Everton defender said.

“If you see the players they have bought, they still want to be attacking and score goals. They have quality in every department of the pitch and are really dangerous up front. 

“Now they have physical size with [Christian] Benteke and the quality with [Philippe] Coutinho and [Roberto] Firmino.

“Seven points from three games is what they expected and I am expecting a tough game. But we are positive as well and they have their weaknesses which we need to exploit.”

When asked about West Ham’s wait of over half a century for a win at Anfield, Bilic responded: “That is long but it doesn’t mean a lot to me. This is a new game and new players. What has happened over the last 52 years but this is a completely new game.”

Captain Kevin Nolan left Upton Park by mutual consent on Friday, but Bilic is hopeful that Diafra Sakho has shaken off a groin problem and will be able to feature.

Enner Valencia (knee) is still out, though Bilic is keen to draw a line under this week’s controversy that saw the Ecuadorian apologise for criticising the club’s medical staff.

A trip to Andy Carroll’s former club comes too soon for the striker to make his return from a knee injury, although Bilic is confident he will be able to face boyhood team Newcastle United after the international break. 

Rodgers has no new injury concerns after Monday’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal, with captain Jordan Henderson (foot) and Adam Lallana (knock) again likely to miss out.

Mario Balotelli completed a season-long loan move to Milan on Thursday, and while long-term absentee Sturridge has returned to training after hip surgery, he will not be risked.


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