Another intensive encounter is the last thing Liverpool need at the moment as the hectic schedule looks set to continue and this is something that West Ham will definitely be looking to exploit when they welcome out-of-sorts Reds in the FA Cup fourth round clash replay at their Boleyn Ground.
While the impressive displays of Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur have been making the deadlines, West Ham were flying under the radar, climbing to sixth in the Premier League standings on the back of some strong performances both home and away. New coach Slaven Bilic has clearly transformed the team, with some shrewd transfer dealings making sure the squad were properly reinforced. The Hammers added the likes of Emmanuel Emenike and Sam Byram to their ranks in January to further improve the strength in depth as they hope to secure a top 6 berth in the Premier League as well as reach the final stages of the FA Cup. West Ham missed the opportunity to beat Liverpool’s second string side at Anfield, but with Slaven Bilic again set to field a very strong side, the Hammers have got to be considered favourites to go through. Having been somewhat unfortunate not to get anything from the Southampton clash, the Boleyn Ground outfit will want to make things right on Tuesday evening.
Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho remain unavailable through injury, but Angelo Ogbonna should return to the side after missing the Southampton game.
Manager Slaven Bilic is unlikely to make major changes to the side, but Andy Carroll should be recalled to the side at Victor Moses’ expense.
After coming close to winning the long-awaited Premier League title a couple of years ago, Liverpool have experienced some testing times and nobody knows whether their dry spell will end any time soon. Even though the fans were rightly excited by the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, we can now see that he is no magician and that he will need time to get his ideas across. The Reds cannot seem to rediscover the lost confidence as witnessed by the failure to hold on to a two-goal lead at home against struggling Sunderland, with the fans’ protest against high ticket prices yet another problem the team have to contend with. As we have already mentioned, the FA Cup fourth round replay against West Ham comes at a bad time considering that the Europa League campaign resumes next week and the Reds are still missing a host of first team regulars, so everything suggests Jurgen Klopp will again be forced to play some youngsters from the start in an attempt to keep his key men fit for the final stretch of the season, which is bound to damage their chances of making it to the next stage.
The good news is that both Dejan Lovren and Joe Allen should be fit to play after suffering knocks in the weekend’s stalemate with Sunderland, while Daniel Sturridge is also back in contention.
However, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Skrtel, Divock Origi, Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez remain in the infirmary.
Key Factors to Consider
- West Ham did not concede in last three meetings with Liverpool (W2 D1)
- The Hammers recorded comfortable wins in last two home games vs the Reds
- Three first team regulars are out for Liverpool, while few more will be rested
- West Ham are unbeaten in last 11 home games (W6 D5)
- Liverpool failed to win last two FA Cup matches on the road (D1 L1)
West Ham have been in fine form of late and there are no doubts that the Hammers will take the high-profile match very seriously, unlike their opponents, who will be without quite a few star players. Taking also into account the Hammers’ impressive record in past meetings with Liverpool, we are backing the hosts to go through.
Verdict: West Ham to qualify
Best Odds: 8/11
Bookmaker: William Hill