MX23RW : Monday, November 12 18:44:40

Preview: West Ham United vs. Liverpool

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between West Ham and Liverpool as the Reds hope to build on the momentum gained from their Champions League win.

After welcoming back the Champions League with a dramatic midweek win, Liverpool return to domestic matters when they travel to West Ham United on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers has admitted that the Reds have not been at the best in the Premier League so far, with a 1-0 home loss to Aston Villa last weekend their second defeat from their opening four games.

However, the Liverpool boss has insisted that his side have been boosted by their European win over Ludogorets Razgrad on Tuesday, which came courtesy of a stoppage-time Steven Gerrard penalty.

It may have been five years since Anfield had played host to a Champions League night, but it was a familiar story, with Gerrard the hero again after the Bulgarians had cancelled out Mario Balotelli's opener.

The £16m signing from AC Milan opened his Liverpool account with a smart outside-of-the-boot finish, but first goals do not come any better than Enner Valencia's maiden strike for the Hammers.

The Ecuadorian's 25-yard rocket helped West Ham to a 2-2 draw at Hull City on Monday, and Sam Allardyce may have finally found a forward who can deputise for, and eventually play with, Andy Carroll.

Carroll cost the Londoners a club-record £16m when they bought him from Liverpool in 2013, but will miss the visit of his former club as he continues to recover from ankle ligament damage.

Kevin Nolan and Joey O'Brien are also long-term absentees and, while Matt Jarvis should be fit after a muscle strain, Allardyce may not have room for the winger, even if he switches back to a 4-3-3 system.

Having both enjoyed cameos as substitutes at the KC Stadium, Arsenal loanee Carl Jenkinson and former Gunners midfielder Alex Song could make their first Hammers starts, at the expense of Guy Demel and Diafra Sakho.

Rodgers has dropped his diamond formation since losing Daniel Sturridge to injury, but may turn back to it so that Raheem Sterling can have a greater influence on proceedings in the role behind the strikers.

That could mean a full debut for Rickie Lambert, whose three appearances off the bench since his move from Southampton total 41 minutes, alongside Balotelli, with Adam Lallana dropping to the bench.

Sturridge, Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan, Joe Allen and Emre Can are all ruled out of the trip to Upton Park and it may also come too soon for Skrtel, who resumed training this week after a spell on the sidelines.

Liverpool, eighth in the table, have lost just two of their last 23 matches against the Hammers, who are 13th.

Recent form

West Ham: DLDWL

Liverpool: WLWLW

Possible starting lineups

West Ham: Adrian; Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell; Kouyate, Song, Noble; Downing, Zarate, Valencia

Liverpool: Mignolet; Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling; Balotelli, Lambert

Sports Mole says: 1-2

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Sam Allardyce, manager of West Ham United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on March 1, 2014
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