Liverpool might not have had the top-four season that they desired at the start of the year, but the Reds still stand with plenty to gain over the remaining weeks of the English Premier League season.
The Merseyside club come into this game just five points behind fifth-placed Arsenal (who face a difficult away trip to West Brom) and just three points behind rivals Everton (who face a very difficult away game against the third-placed Tottenham Hotspur).
They'll know just how big this week could be, therefore, in their hunt for European football next season, and will no doubt come with an attacking mentality.
However, the Hammers definitely won't be a pushover, and with former Liverpool players in their midst, West Ham will be more than ready to surprise the Reds.
So who will emerge victorious from this Premier League clash this weekend?
Read on for a full preview of this match including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, key players, analysis and predictions.
Date: Sunday, April 7, 2013
Start time: 8:30 a.m. ET (1:30 p.m. local time)
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool
Live Stream and TV Information
SiriusXM FC, Fox Soccer Plus and TalkSport Radio will all provide coverage of this match throughout the United States (per Live Soccer TV).
A live stream of the game can be found through Fox Soccer 2Go.
2012-13 EPL Season so Far: Liverpool
After spending big over the summer transfer window, Liverpool started off the season with frustrating results—winning just three of their opening 14 games.
However, since then, the Reds have shown much better direction in attack and focus in defense, with Luis Suarez having a career-year for the Merseyside club.
The winter transfer window saw Brendan Rodgers bring in a number of new attacking talents to partner Suarez in Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, and immediately the duo have had an impact at the club, as the Reds have won four of their last five games.
Moreover, they have scored more EPL goals in 2013 than any other team.
The Reds have only lost four games at Anfield all season and have only conceded 14 goals in that time, with Manchester United and Arsenal the only teams in the top eight to defeat the Reds at home.
2012-13 EPL Season so Far: West Ham
Newly promoted back to the Premier League, West Ham started the season with serious promise—recording just three defeats in their first 11 games. Yet since that date, the London club have been on a gradual slide—winning just six more games since then, and only two more away from home.
As a result, the London club have seen themselves slip out of the top half of the table altogether—dropping down into 11th position now.
Key Players to Watch: Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Since making a move from Chelsea to Merseyside this winter, Daniel Sturridge has been in fine form for the Reds and will be a big threat again here.
Sturridge's pace and on-ball skills make him a great target going forward out wide, and his combination with Luis Suarez has been very successful already—regardless of where Rodgers opts to play his two strikers and what tactics he employs within that.
In his seven league appearances for Liverpool, Sturridge has four goals and a goal and is averaging a stellar 4.4 shots per game. Combined with his 1.4 successful dribbles and 1.7 goalscoring opportunities created, that makes him a very fascinating player to watch indeed.
Sturridge has benefited greatly from having Coutinho and Suarez around him and will surely show his strength up front once more in this one.
He'll be the Hammers' big concern in defense all day.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: Can West Ham's Away Form Hold Up?
West Ham have not been very strong on the road this year, and appear unlikely to change that here when playing away at Anfield—one of the more formidable road trips to take in the Premier League.
The Londoners have won just three times from their 15 away games this year and have suffered an incredible 10 defeats throughout the year. They haven't beaten a team in the top half of the table away from home and have won just once in their last 10 road games.
But perhaps most alarming for Allardyce is their goalscoring, which has seen them score just nine goals away from Upton Park all season. Just to put that into context, Liverpool have scored more than double that amount in just their last six home fixtures.
To beat Liverpool, it's clear that the Hammers are going to have to score goals, but given what we've seen this year, they don't seem to have it in them.
Three Stats to Consider
- Liverpool have had 242 shots throughout the Premier League this season—more than any other team. The next highest is defending champions Manchester City, who have had 207 shots.
- West Ham have only won one of their past eight EPL games against Liverpool. They have drawn one and lost the other six to the Reds.
- Luis Suarez (league's leading goalscorer) has created 77 chances from open play this year—more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues (EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1).
Given how important this game is to Liverpool in their hunt for a European berth next season and given how terrible West Ham have been on the road this year, it seems very likely we'll see a home win here. Especially given the run of form that the Reds are in right now.
With Suarez, Coutinho and Sturridge leading their attack and the likes of Steven Gerrard in behind, Liverpool have the talent required to compete with the best in the Premier League. As such, they should dispose comfortably of a less-than-impressive West Ham side in this one.
The return of several players to Anfield will make for a little bit of feeling in this one, but in the end, that will run secondary to the Reds' dominance here.
Expect goals early and late from the home side as they chalk up a big win here and keep their chances at a top five-finish alive this year.
Liverpool 4, West Ham 0
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