There is probably a large collective of Liverpool supporters that are still stunned into silence the best part of a week later after our demise at Bournemouth on Sunday; it really was one of the most bizarre turnarounds the Premier League has witnessed this term.
And yet things had started so well: goals from Saido Mane and Divock Origi, in the starting eleven as predicted by this column, had given the Reds a healthy 2-0 cushion at half time, and it appeared to be a case of how many would Liverpool win by, rather than a question of if they would claim the three points at all.
But then a lazy tackle by James Milner early in the second half earned Bournemouth a penalty, which was coolly despatched by Callum Wilson. Even so, the comeback wasn’t on, was it? Thoughts along those lines were extinguished when Emre Can notched his third goal in four starts.
The last 15 minutes….well, it is probably best to gloss over those, but let’s say that it has been confirmed that Lucas Leiva is not a centre back. Lorus Karius won’t want to watch the Cherries 93rd minute winner back on video either.
Defeat was a real kick in the teeth, and allowed Chelsea to open up a four-point gap at the summit of the Premier League table. But if Jurgen Klopp does look at the positives he will note that his side once again played an opponent off the pitch for the best part of an hour, scoring with all three of their shots on target in a show of ruthless efficiency.
They can head into Sunday’s clash with beleaguered West Ham, who were tonked 1-5 at Arsenal last time out, with plenty of confidence then.
Liverpool Team News
There has been some heartening news this week: Joel Matip has returned to training and should step into the breach at centre half on Sunday: lord knows we need him. The Cameroon ace has taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water, and his physicality in defence will be needed if the Hammers start with Andy Carroll in attack.
Saido Mane limped off against Bournemouth but has been in full training too, with Adam Lallana stepping up his intensity after coming on for the last 20 minutes on the south coast.
Unsurprisingly, Daniel Sturridge is injured once again and misses out, while Phillip Coutinho will not return until the new year.
At least Klopp will be able to name a side that is strong in all areas then, although he will have to make a tough choice between Gigi Wijnaldum and Emre Can in midfield, who has been impressive in the absence of Lallana.
West Ham Form
Without a win or a clean sheet in five attempts, the black clouds are circling above the Olympic Stadium and Slaven Bilic in particular. Hamstrung by injuries and the loss of form to key players, it is hard not to feel sympathy for the likeable Croat, but even so he would be expecting his charges to produce better than what they are delivering at the moment.
The five that the Gunners put past them, and the three that Spurs knocked in a couple of weeks prior, should serve as a mouth-watering proposition for this Liverpool side hungry for goals, and while the Hammers have netted in each of their last four that generally belies the fact that they manage, on average, just 2.79 shots on target per 90 minutes; only Middlesbrough and Burnley contribute fewer.
Liverpool vs West Ham Betting Tips
As we know, the bookmakers aren’t daft and their price of 1/4 on a Liverpool victory is representative of their hopes of picking up the three points.
The Hammers could be without Michail Antonio, Aaron Cresswell and James Collins pending fitness tests, and Andy Carroll is touch and go. The opportunities for a revenge-seeking Liverpool to pick up the win are huge, with six of West Ham’s eight defeats this term coming by a two-goal margin or more.
Defending has been the Hammers’ Achilles heel this term – only Swansea have conceded more – and particularly away from home, where they average more than two goals shipped per outing.
So, the Reds, with a -1 handicap at 5/6, look a tantalising investment.
If the Reds are going to score at least two then there is ample opportunity to find a goalscorer bet or two, and with West Ham deploying a 3-5-2 system it is wide areas where they are especially vulnerable; particularly if their wing back pairing is the inexperienced Edison Fernandes and the hapless Alfred Masuaku.
The rampaging Saido Mane, at 21/20, offers excellent value in the Anytime Goalscorer market as a result.
With Matip restored at the heart of the defence, the Reds look a far more solid prospect defensively, and so the Correct Score market offers intriguing value. Backing Liverpool at 2-0 and 3-0, at 15/2 and 17/2 respectively, is wise.