It would be fair to say that the FA Cup fourth round tie with Shrewsbury did not exactly go according to plan for Jurgen Klopp. He named a strong enough starting eleven to take care of business against the League One outfit, and when Curtis Jones gave the Reds the lead early on there were no further dramas anticipated on a afternoon when some key squad players – Fabinho, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren – were able to get some much-needed game time.
Early in the second half, the Shrews’ Donald Love put through his own goal to make it 2-0 to Liverpool, and that surely was enough to see us into the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2015.
Alas, not all best laid plans work out as envisaged.
Shrewsbury sent on Jason Cummings, and within five minutes he had pulled one back from the penalty spot.
And then, scarcely believably, he added another just five minutes later to make it two apiece.
Klopp sent on Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a attempt to nick a late winner, but to no avail – the Shrews had earned their Anfield replay.
Our German manager was apoplectic, either at the result or the English fascination with cup replays, and has confirmed that he and the first-team squad won’t be involved in the replay to ensure that the planned winter break is adhered to.
So, Under-23s boss Neil Critchley will once again lead a very youthful Liverpool team into battle.
That’s for the future, but this week everyone associated with the first team needs to get their heads in gear, first for Wednesday’s trip to West Ham and then for the visit of Southampton to Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool Team News
There was good news with Fabinho, Matip and Lovren all continuing their return to first team action on Sunday, although the prognosis regarding Sadio Mane’s condition is still up in the air.
When asked about the Senegalese ace, who picked up a hamstring injury against Wolves last week, Klopp confirmed that the club is yet to find out the results of his scan. Hopefully, he will be available for selection.
There was brighter news that Naby Keita is set for a return to action. He was an unused substitute against Shrewsbury, and while he might not feature against the Hammers he will possibly be involved against Southampton at the weekend.
The cup tie was too soon for James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri, although both could feature on Wednesday, presumably from the substitutes’ bench.
With the so-called winter break on the horizon, Klopp will demand two more concerted efforts from his players before they can put their feet up for a fortnight.
West Ham Form
David Moyes rode into the Olympic Stadium on a white steed, promising to turn the fortunes of West Ham around. And….
….well, he’s done nothing of the sort, really.
The Hammers hammered Bournemouth 4-0 but that was in the midst of the Cherries’ awful slump in form, and since then they have lost to Leicester and Sheffield United and drawn with Everton.
In essence, they have moved sideways under their new manager, rather than forwards in any way.
The West Ham faithful are a passionate bunch, and they aren’t backwards in letting their displeasure be known. That’s one of the reasons why their side has won more points on the road than on home soil this term, and that fear factor will surely guide Liverpool to yet another victory.
West Ham vs Liverpool Betting Tips
There is literally nothing about West Ham’s squad or game plan that suggests they can even nick a point off Liverpool here, let alone all three.
As such, the bookies’ price of 1/3 on a Liverpool victory are absolutely fair enough.
We must look elsewhere for our betting value then, and perhaps we’ll find some by looking at the individual goalscorer markets.
Here’s a fun fact: West Ham concede roughly 33% of their goals from set pieces. That’s an above average ratio, and as we know the Reds are adept at finding the net from corner and free kick deliveries.
One player guaranteed to be on the Liverpool team sheet is Virgil van Dijk, and he is a massive 6/1 to score anytime and 18/1 to find the net first. Both are intriguing plays for a small stakes investment.