Liverpool will be aiming to continue their positive opening to the campaign as they welcome West Ham United to Anfield, with the Londoners coming into it following two disappointing home defeats.
The hosts are a side that have been universally criticised for their defending during Brendan Rodgers’ tenure, but they have begun with three consecutive clean sheets and appear to have found a settled backline. Joe Gomez has showed few signs of youthful naivety in slotting in at left-back; Nathaniel Clyne has already gone some way to proving his value on the right, while Dejan Lovren has so far looked much more assured alongside industrious centre-back partner Martin Skrtel.
Providing that solidity continues, the target now will be to add more goals, having put in a strong performance in Monday’s visit to Arsenal only to misfire in front of goal. However, there was great potential in their display, with the tenacity of James Milner and Lucas Leiva allowing the likes of Philippe Coutinho the freedom to express his creative talents. The playmaker seems to have already developed a strong understanding with Christian Benteke, whose physical strength is proving effective.
Slaven Bilic meanwhile will be desperate for his West Ham side to give nothing away at the back. Some shocking defensive errors condemned them to a 4-3 reverse against newly promoted Bournemouth, helping to ensure that an early second half revival came to nothing. The full-backs were particularly at fault, with Aaron Cresswell experiencing his worst day for the club since joining a year ago and Carl Jenkinson punished with a red card for his negligence which led to the penalty that provided the Cherries’ fourth.
Indeed, the first half turned out to be so miserable for them that Angelo Ogbonna was hauled off after barely half an hour and the supporters were airing their discontent. It must seem a while since they triumphed against all the odds at Arsenal on opening weekend, and here they must produce the kind of disciplined showing that was the key to their success that day to appease the recent detractors and get a good result.
Captain Jordan Henderson is set to miss out again for Liverpool with the foot problem he picked up against Bournemouth on August 17, joining fellow midfielders Joe Allen and Adam Lallana on the sidelines.
Jenkinson serves a suspension for West Ham along with goalkeeper Adrian. Attacking trio Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate are all injured and so will not feature.
Last Meeting: Daniel Sturridge received all the attention as he marked his long-awaited return from injury with a goal to clinch a comfortable 2-0 victory at the end of January, smashing a shot home from inside the penalty area. The opener had come from Raheem Sterling finished coolly after a lovely back-heel from Philippe Coutinho.
Played for both – Rigobert Song: The stylish defender never scored a Premier League goal, but became well known after endearing himself to Liverpool supporters soon after joining in 1999. A busy international schedule meant he was restricted to 34 league appearances before moving to West Ham early in the 2000-01 season, going on to make 24 outings in the space of two years.
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