Another potential obstacle overcome, Liverpool remain in the hunt for the Premier League title despite Manchester City’s subsequent win over their local rivals United. West Ham have become one of the toughest sides to beat in the division, and Saturday evening’s encounter at Anfield was always likely to be settled by the odd defining moment here or there.
And that came as early as the 27th minute when Sadio Mane, who has been much improved of late since the signing of Luis Diaz (perhaps no coincidence), found himself on the end of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross to turn home his fourth goal in his last five games.
And, in the end as expected, that solitary moment was the difference maker in a hard fought 1-0 victory.
Liverpool did create enough chances to extend their margin of victory, with Mo Salah firing straight at the Hammers keeper when he should have hit the back of the net, and Diaz – who was sensational throughout – creating a few good openings of his own.
Both Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Fornals could have equalised for the visitors – this was not a steamroller style victory we expect from the Reds at Anfield, but you would be hard-pressed to suggest they weren’t the better side and fully deserving of their win.
The three points keeps the pressure on City at the summit of the Premier League table, and now Jurgen Klopp’s men find themselves six points adrift of the champions with a game in hand – plus the head-to-head meeting between the sides scheduled for April 10. He may be suggesting otherwise, but the manager has not given up hope of lifting the trophy just yet.
Attention turns to another considerable trophy on Tuesday evening – Liverpool welcome Inter Milan for the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie, with the Reds hoping to defend their 2-0 triumph from the first fixture.
Liverpool Team News
Three players that might otherwise feature in the spine of Klopp’s starting eleven find themselves on the treatment table.
Thiago’s thigh injury and Bobby Firmino’s groin problem will keep them out of action for the foreseeable future, while Joel Matip missed the engagement with the Hammers having come down with illness – not Covid, Klopp assures, just your bog-standard bug. He may or may not have recovered in time for Tuesday’s game, with Ibrahima Konate on standby.
The other ailment is the headache Klopp must be getting when working out which of his attacking players to start. Salah is a given, of course, while Mane’s form in front of goal surely books his place in the team.
So then it comes down to a straight choice between Diaz and Diogo Jota for the other berth. Diaz’s form is almost impossible to ignore, however the magnitude of this contest might see the Portuguese forward – who boasts more experience and perhaps is better attuned tactically from a defensive sense – just get the nod over the unlucky Colombian.
In midfield, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita – despite all playing 90 minutes against the Hammers – seems the most likely trio once more.
Inter Milan Form
There’s absolutely no doubt that Inter Milan showed enough in the first leg to confirm how much of a handful they will be for Liverpool at Anfield.
They struck the woodwork and came close to finding the net on a handful of occasions with Ivan Perisic running riot down the left, and on another day they might have found the net on two or three occasions – Liverpool really have to be mindful of their work on home soil.
Domestically, Inter have been usurped by their Milan rivals AC at the top of the Serie A table, however if they win their game in hand they will leapfrog back to the summit themselves – it’s fair to say that confidence is high in their camp.
Liverpool vs Inter Milan Betting Tips
This is actually a pretty difficult game to fathom out from a betting perspective, and on the evidence of the first leg we would suggest that Liverpool look plenty short with the bookies at 4/6.
Like with West Ham at the weekend, we can back Inter with a juicy handicap and still profit even if they lose by a single goal margin – the +1.00 Asian line looking the play at 10/11.
Goals could be the order of the day here. Klopp won’t park the bus or anything like that, while Inter showed they are more than capable in the first leg – indeed, they might even be more dangerous on the counter at Anfield. The Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams to Score double, at 21/20, seems fair game.