MX23RW : Sunday, October 21 15:20:28
Timeline
19'     M. Salah (A. Robertson)
21'     T. Alexander-Arnold (Roughing)
45+2'     S. Mane (J. Milner)
(D. Rice) R. Snodgrass        46'
(Tripping) M. Antonio        52'
53'     S. Mane (R. Firmino)
F. Balbuena        55'
(F. Anderson) Chicharito        62'
(M. Arnautovic) A. Yarmolenko        67'
82'     X. Shaqiri (S. Mane)
87'     D. Sturridge (M. Salah)
88'     D. Sturridge (J. Milner)

Preview: Liverpool vs. West Ham United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full preview of Liverpool's opening Premier League match against West Ham United.

Liverpool begin their Premier League campaign against West Ham United at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, with both sides expected to impress this season after splashing the cash in the transfer window.

Jurgen Klopp's team seem to have recovered from their Champions League final defeat in May with the addition of fresh faces and their scintillating pre-season form, while former Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini has brought the buzz back to East London after being appointed as David Moyes's successor.


Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watches on during the Premier League match against Brighton on May 13, 2018© Reuters

For the first time in a number of seasons, Liverpool are being tipped as genuine title challengers. The consensus in previous campaigns where Liverpool had looked strong was that while they had a first XI worthy of finishing top, their substitutes lacked the same quality as those on the pitch.

Their squad imbalance has hurt them on many an occasion, not least in the Europa League final against Sevilla and in the defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev. Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored an incredible 91 goals between them in all competitions last season, but with the likes of Danny Ings, a misfiring Daniel Sturridge and youngster Dominic Solanke on the bench, the Reds have lacked a telling impact from the rest of their charges in recent times.

This season, however, Liverpool look different. Sturridge has appeared in all nine pre-season games, scoring six goals and tallying a minutes-per-goal ratio of 61.6, while the addition of Xherdan Shaqiri looks to have given Klopp a duo that can fill in both as impact substitutes, and as starters in the absence of their usual strike force.

The Reds have also recruited in other areas that have lacked quality. Alisson Becker's arrival from Roma has resolved their much-disputed goalkeeping situation, and the signings of Fabinho and Naby Keita have added real depth in midfield. Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and James Milner could all be left on the bench, with Jordan Henderson expected to complete the midfield trio as captain.

For the first time in a while, Liverpool look to have a strong collective and could well be in the title race come April. Sturridge seemed out of the picture following his loan to West Bromwich Albion, but the Englishman has come back and shown signs of a resurgence in fitness.

Shaqiri, meanwhile, has shaken off his relegation with Stoke City and arrived at Liverpool with a point to prove. The Switzerland international's debut goal - an overhead kick against Manchester United - got him off to an impressive start, and the Champions League winner seems to have formed an attacking relationship with Sturridge which could give the Reds the backup plan that they have missed for some time.

However, the only area which Liverpool are still to shore up properly is defence. While the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January was a big statement from Klopp, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan have proved unreliable with injuries. Van Dijk and Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren worked well together last season, but the worries begin to creep in when that first-choice pairing is unavailable.

Klopp, who openly criticised Paul Pogba's heavyweight transfer back to Manchester United, admitted earlier this summer that he changed his mind about the market after spending over £150m this summer. Yet with their four summer arrivals, the German coach should be excited about the season ahead.

Pre-season form: WWWWLW


West Ham United

Manuel Pellegrini in charge of Manchester City in May 2016© Reuters

West Ham go into the new season full of optimism after spending close to £100m this summer, including landing two deadline-day signings and breaking their club transfer record twice.

Optimism is not what West Ham fans would have expected following the team's turbulent last campaign. The East London outfit looked like relegation candidates under Slaven Bilic early on, and despite David Moyes guiding the club to a 13th-place finish, off-the-pitch issues dominated throughout.

The ugly scenes that marred the Hammers' 3-0 defeat to Burnley in March epitomised the fans' anger at a lack of investment from co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold. However, the pair have since turned the situation around with nine new faces brought into the London Stadium.

Pellegrini's additions are a mix of regular starters and squad fillers, but all will be important if the Hammers are to secure a top-10 finish this term. Lukasz Fabianski, signed from Swansea City in a shrewd £7m deal, is expected to play between the sticks following Joe Hart's loan stint, while Ryan Fredericks will be key on the right flank. Issa Diop, who joined in a club-record £22m deal from Toulouse, may only be 21 but there is a good chance that he will soon fit in at the back.

Perhaps the best business completed by West Ham, however, is in midfield. Jack Wilshere arrives from Arsenal after his first injury-free season in a long time, while Felipe Anderson's £41m arrival not only smashed the transfer record again, but gives Pellegrini another dangerous option in the middle of the park.

Up front, West Ham will also threaten. Austrian international Marko Arnautovic has declared himself "fit, ready and hungry" after netting five goals in seven pre-season outings, while Javier Hernandez also scored on his return following World Cup action.

The signing of Andriy Yarmolenko from Borussia Dortmund and Lucas Perez's switch across London have provided extra competition for places, which should mean the quartet will often be switched around as the season progresses.

Overall, Pellegrini's appointment was the first of a number of positive changes to West Ham this summer, and the Chilean's transfer business could set his players up for a top-10 finish, if not higher.

Pre-season form: WWWWDW


Team News

Naby Keita in action for Liverpool in a friendly on July 19, 2018© Reuters

Klopp confirmed to reporters at his press conference on Friday that he is facing a selection dilemma in defence. Dutchman Van Dijk is fit but could be partnered by youngster Nathaniel Phillips.

Gomez and Matip will both be assessed at Melwood on Friday, while Klavan is out injured and Lovren, who only returned to Merseyside last Monday, is also unavailable.

In midfield, Fabinho sat out training on Thursday after picking up a knock, and despite a scan revealing that the Brazilian had no issues, the new signing has since come down with illness and could be a doubt.

England duo Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will both take part in the game, while Mane, Firmino and Salah are expected to line up in attack.

As for West Ham, Pellegrini only has a couple of issues to deal with besides his confirmed absentees - Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid and Michail Antonio - who are all out with long-term injuries.

Yarmolenko, who has a hip issue, and Edimilson Fernandes are doubts for Sunday's tie, but the rest of the squad is fit.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson; Keita, Milner, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Salah

West Ham possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Fredericks, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Creswell; Sanchez, Noble, Rice, Wilshere, Anderson; Arnautovic


Head To Head

Liverpool's attack has once again looked red-hot in pre-season this summer, and they will break a club record of beating the same side by four or more goals in succession if they manage that against West Ham, on what would be the fourth such occasion in a row. The Reds, who defeated the Hammers 4-0 at the end of the 2016-17 season, won 4-1 against the East London side on both meetings last term.

In fact, West Ham have lost more games to Liverpool in the top flight (61) than any other opponent. Their only win in the last 45 trips to Anfield came in August 2015, but the Reds have since improved their home record and went unbeaten for the entirety of last season.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Liverpool 2-0 West Ham United

Liverpool have looked ready for the new season for a long time, with their attack showing as much intensity as it did throughout last season.

West Ham have definitely improved over the summer and will no doubt get chances due to Liverpool's defensive issues, but Klopp's team will run out comfortable winners in the end.


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Who will win Sunday's Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham?

Liverpool
Draw
West Ham
Liverpool
54.4%
Draw
17.5%
West Ham
28.1%
Lucas Perez in action for Arsenal on January 31, 2017
Read Next:
Lucas Perez completes move to West Ham
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City97202632323
2Liverpool97201631323
3Chelsea96302071321
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs9702167921
5Arsenal86021910918
6Bournemouth95221612417
7Watford95131312116
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves943298115
9Manchester UnitedMan Utd94231516-114
10Everton93421312113
11Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton93241013-311
13Crystal Palace922559-48
14Burnley92251017-78
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham9216814-67
16Southampton9135614-86
17Cardiff CityCardiff9126819-115
18Fulham91261125-145
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield9036418-143
20Newcastle UnitedNewcastle9027614-82

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