The Premier League’s first match of 2016 sees a West Ham side buoyed by their first win in two months welcome a Liverpool side who have enjoyed a fruitful festive period.
The Hammers ended a run of five consecutive draws as they came from behind to defeat Southampton 2-1 on Monday, with Andy Carroll’s winner securing a much-needed three points which lifted Slaven Bilic’s side back into the top half.
West Ham go into the game just a point behind their opponents, and a win will see them temporarily rise into the top five – where they could stay if later results go their way.
The East Londoners shocked Liverpool at Anfield when these two sides met in August, coming away with a 3-0 victory; they also won 3-1 when the two played at Upton Park last season.
Liverpool are beginning to find some consistency under Jurgen Klopp, with consecutive 1-0 victories over Christmas lifting them into the top seven.
Christian Benteke scored the winner in both of those games, with the big Belgian showing signs that he may be able to fit into the German manager’s plans amidst worries that he would struggle with Klopp’s high pressing system.
Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren have been key to the Reds’ recent upturn in fortunes, with shut-outs against Leicester and Sunderland laying the foundation for six points from six. They will both have to be on top form to stop Andy Carroll, who will be desperate to make his mark against the club that discarded him having spent £35 million on him four years ago.
West Ham have been boosted by Dimitri Payet’s speedy return from an ankle injury, with the Frenchman set to play some part this weekend. Aaron Cresswell is likely to face a late fitness test but Nikica Jelavic, Winston Reid and Victor Moses won’t be involved.
Daniel Sturridge could return to play some part for Liverpool, who will be without fellow striker Divock Origi for the next three weeks. Jordan Henderson, James Milner look set to miss out, whilst Jon Flanagan played half an hour for the Under-21s this week as he steps up his recovery after 19 months on the sidelines.
League Position: West Ham – 8th (29 pts); Liverpool – 7th (30 pts)
Last Meeting: Liverpool 0-3 West Ham (August 29, 2015)
Form: West Ham – DDDDDW; Liverpool – WLDLWW
Key Players: West Ham – Andy Carroll; Liverpool – Christian Benteke
Shoot Says: West Ham 1-1 Liverpool