For all Liverpool aren’t challenging for the Champions League as the season draws to its conclusion Brendan Rodgers can look back on a relatively successful first year at the Anfield helm. Seventh in the table and still in with a shout of qualifying for the Europa League is nothing to be sniffed at by any means. In fact the Reds are in splendid form and recorded a fourth win in five Premier League games by coming from behind to beat Aston Villa last week and left them three points behind Everton. Overhauling their arch-rivals and nicking a top-six finish will be the objective now and victory against West Ham will push them close to achieving that.
The Hammers must dread their trips to the red half having failed to score in 29 of their 38 visits. Away form has been the Achilles heel for Sam Allardyce’s men this season with just three wins and nine goals coming in their 15 games away from Upton Park. That being said Allardyce can be afforded a huge sigh of relief that he and his team aren’t coming into this game with the threat of relegating hanging over their head. Last weeks home victory over West Brom wedged a six point buffer between them the bottom three and all but ensured Premier League survival. With that weight partially lifted from their shoulder it could work in West Ham’s favour.
Long-term absentees Martin Kelly (knee), Joe Allen and Fabio Borini (both shoulder) are the only players missing for Liverpool this weekend meaning Brendan Rodgers has no fresh injury concerns.
By the terms of his loan agreement West Ham are unable to call upon Andy Carroll for the visit to his parent club. Joe Cole could feature against his former employers should he recover from a hamstring complaint in time. Mark Noble (shoulder) and George McCartney (knee) are out for the season.
What the managers said…
“I know what it was like when I faced him as an opposing manager. I always viewed him as a pest around the penalty area and you know that players like that usually have the quality to score at any given time. It’s not his job to be liked, he’ll be respected because he’s a top football player and it won’t concern him too much if people don’t like him. The likability of any player is always up for debate, and people will always use their own moral compass to judge Luis Suarez, but that’s not something I tend to focus on. I concentrate on what he is like with me on a day-to-day basis and he is a great man.” Brendan Rodgers admits he understands why Luis Suarez is universally disliked (Metro)
“What we got last week is what we’ve been waiting for, for a while. We saw him in full flight last week. He can’t play on Sunday obviously, against Liverpool. I think he’s great, he gets a big cheer whenever they announce his name whenever he’s in the starting line up. I think we might have a chance. We’ll wait and see at end of the year when all the budgets are sorted out.
‘If we are definitely in the Premier League then we’ll have a look at everybody that’s on loan or out of contract.” Sam Allardyce reiterates his desire to make Andy Carroll’s loan deal at West Ham a permanent one (Daily Mail)
Pre-Match Statistic: Sam Allardyce has tasted defeat in each of his last eight trips to Anfield since guiding former club Bolton to an unlikely draw back in 2002.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 West Ham United