28 Aug 2015

LFC vs. W.Ham: £61m-trio out; surprise start for 'wonderful' starlet? Rodgers warning over 'toughest' game (Prediction League)

Much to the surprise of many, Liverpool remain unbeaten this season, and with three clean sheets in a row, the club's much-maligned defence is looking somewhat imperious, which is a huge turnaround a few short months ago. Can Liverpool keep this up? Arsenal was a huge test for the Reds, and the team passed it with flying colours, but according to Brendan Rodgers, tomorrow's home game with West Ham will be a bigger test than the Monday's game at the Emirates.

Team News:

* According to Rodgers today: "There are no great changes to the squad from last week". This probably means that Henderson will remain on the sidelines, along with Allen, and Lallana** (unless Rodgers is bluffing, of course, to try and fool West Ham).

* It also means than Teixeira will continue to be scandalously ignored by the manager. Jordan Rossiter - hailed by Rodgers as 'wonderful' in the past - will probably make the squad again.

* Markovic and Balotelli are going out on loan, so they obviously won't be in the squad.

To be fair, there's no real need to change the team that started against Arsenal, which was:

* Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez, Milner, Can, Lucas, Firmino, Coutinho, Benteke.

Lucas made a big difference to the team, so there's no reason to drop him now. He deserves his place on merit, but it won't surprise me in the slightest to see Rodgers stubbornly relegate him to the bench, with Rossiter taking his place (which will be a major surprise).

Even if Lallana is fit again, he doesn't deserve to be in the starting line-up, but Hendo - if fit - will almost certainly return, probably at the expense of Lucas (though it should be Can who makes way).

When asked about the game during his pre-match press conference today, Rodgers told reporters:

"This will be our toughest game of the four. They [West Ham] will come here motivated to get a result".

Hmmm. I'm not quite sure how a home game against West Ham is tougher than an away game against Arsenal. The Gunners are superior to the Hammers, and Liverpool have home advantage. That said, West Ham are an attacking threat, and they've scored six goals so far, compared to Liverpool's measly two goals (one of which was offside, and shouldn't have counted).

Liverpool's midfielders/attacking players really need to step it up in this game, and I personally expect to see Milner, Can, Coutinho, and Firmino making a significantly improved effort in the final third (i.e. creating more chances; having more shots, and scoring/creating some darn goals).


Predicting a 2-0 victory for Liverpool, Reds legend Mark Lawrenson told the BBC:

"I don't see West Ham causing them [LFC] too many problems, and this should be quite a comfortable win for Liverpool".

It *should* be a comfortable win, just as Bournemouth should (in theory, and on paper) have been a comfortable win, but it rarely works out that way.

PREDICTION LEAGUE

West Ham have lost two of their first three games, and conceded six goals along the way, which shows that they're defensively suspect. However, Bilic will not want to lose another game as that will put him under pressure less than a month into the new season.

As such, West Ham will be desperate not to lose, but the Reds have better players, and with home advantage, this is a game that must be won, especially for a team with genuine Champions League aspirations.

My prediction: 2-1 to Liverpool.

You have until 2pm Saturday (GMT) to get your predictions in. Good luck!

(I'll be updating the tables today with a few results I missed in the last update).

** Combined cost: £61m

Author: Jaimie K



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