There’s a huge game in the Premier League tonight as West Ham host Liverpool at the London Stadium. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. It could have a big impact on the title race. Liverpool lead Manchester City by just two points after City comfortably dispatched Arsenal 3-1 yesterday.
West Ham haven’t seen things go their way at all recently. They’re 12th in the table and have lost their last three in a row: against Bournemouth and Wolves in the league and Wimbledon in the FA Cup. A 2-0 win against Arsenal is their only win in their last five league games. But they’re no pushovers. The Irons have a strong squad and have shown that they can compete. They’ll surely be up for this game tonight and could easily cause Liverpool problems.
At home, West Ham have beaten Arsenal and Manchester United this season. They can certainly take some inspiration from those games. And they have plenty of quality in their side and plenty of players that can hurt Liverpool. Marko Arnautovic is the one that stands out, as he can be devastating when he’s at the top of his game. But he may not be fit. Manuel Pellegrini said he has to have a look at him, so we’ll have to wait and see later whether he’s fit or not.
Lukasz Fabianski is another player nursing an injury, but Pellegrini sounded more hopeful about him, so he should be fit. Aaron Cresswell should also make it, but Samir Nasri definitely misses out. Winston Reid, Fabian Balbuena, Manuel Lanzini, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko all remain out.
So, can West Ham pull off an upset? It wouldn’t be surprising. They have been misfiring of late, but definitely have enough quality to do some damage to Liverpool’s defence tonight. If they turn up, they’re in with a shout. And they should be up for this game and give it everything they have. Along with Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson is a dangerman. He’s a very good player and will look to hurt the Reds down the left.
Liverpool could really do with a win tonight after Man City closed the gap at the top of the table. The Reds will surely be still disappointed at only drawing against Leicester last Wednesday, as they’ll feel they’ve missed a chance. But they must ensure nerves don’t get the better of them and go out and play their game. If they keep playing as well as they have done this season, they’ll win this game.
Their recent results against West Ham will be a source of inspiration for them, too. Liverpool have scored four goals against the Irons on each of their last four league encounters: 4-0, 4-1, 4-1, 4-0. It would be a surprise if we saw a similar scoreline tonight, though, as it has the feel of being a tighter game. But then again, maybe not. With Liverpool’s brilliant attacking players and – mostly – rock-solid defence, they could repeat one of those scorelines. And if they do, they could take a big step towards the Premier League title.
But a defeat or draw would be a big blow to Jurgen Klopp’s side. Man City play Everton on Wednesday night: a fixture rearranged because of the champions’ involvement in the Carabao Cup final. If Liverpool fail to win tonight, and Man City beat Everton, Pep Guardiola’s side will go back top of the league. Liverpool would have a game in hand and have the opportunity to overtake them again, but the pressure would definitely begin to mount in that case.
Tonight’s game is absolutely huge. But the Reds will be confident of getting the job done. They should have far too much quality for West Ham and should win it comfortably. But the pressure of the title race brings on another challenge in itself, and we’ll have to see if they can deal with that pressure. It’ll be very interesting to see how they get on tonight.
Trent Alexander-Arnold remains out, so James Milner – who returns from suspension – may play at right-back and have the task of keeping Anderson quiet. Joe Gomez may not return until the end of February, while Dejan Lovren is also out.
This could be a very good game. If West Ham turn up and really put in a performance, they could get something from it. But if Liverpool are at their very best, they could just blow them away. The Reds at their best are almost unstoppable, but what Liverpool will we get? If it’s the one that played Leicester on Wednesday, West Ham will likely get something from the game. But Liverpool need to respond and will likely turn up tonight.
It’s a game that I’m really looking forward to watching. I’m going to leave it there for now, but I’ll be back here with more tomorrow morning. We could have a new twist in the title race to look at in the morning. I have absolutely nothing against Liverpool, but I’m hoping for a West Ham win tonight to make the title race more exciting. I’m hopeful that it’ll go to the wire!
I haven’t yet decided what this week’s in-depth article will be on, but I’ll let you know when I do. The last one I wrote was on the history of the Brighton/Crystal Palace rivalry, which I found interesting.
Anyway, I’ll leave it there for now: see you tomorrow.