Liverpool vs West Ham Preview: Reds look to move within four wins of title
(Photo by Stephanie Meek - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Liverpool will look to restore their 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table when they host West Ham United on Monday night.

Manchester City trimmed their margin on Saturday evening with a 1-0 win over Leicester.

Victory here would keep the Reds on course to wrap up the title at home to Crystal Palace on 21 March.

For the first time in 2020, however, they go into a game on the back of a defeat.

They fell to a frustrating 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid last Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Jurgen Klopp's side will seek to put that right in just over a fortnight's time, but for the moment their domestic record chase continues.

They are eyeing an 18th consecutive league triumph, which would equal City's benchmark, set in the 2017/18.

The pre-match statistics, then, make bleak reading for the visitors.

David Moyes' future at the club is already in doubt after a winless run stretching back to 5 January.

They currently occupy 18th place, a point adrift of Aston Villa.

This is the latest in a gruelling run of fixtures which will also see them face Arsenal, Wolves and Spurs before the end of March.

It comes off the back of a 2-0 defeat away to reigning champions City last week.

The reverse fixture

In fact, West Ham have only played twice since they last faced Liverpool on 29 January.

The match was originally pencilled in for December but had to be rescheduled because of the Reds' Club World Cup commitments.

Liverpool eased to a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, with the hosts forcing Alisson into four saves.

Team news

Liverpool will be without their in-form captain Jordan Henderson after he was forced off with a hamstring injury against Atletico.

His spell on the sidelines is expected to last three weeks, with Naby Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain vying for the replacement role.

Xherdan Shaqiri, who hasn't featured in the league since the 1-0 win at Spurs on 11 January, remains out with a calf injury.

As for West Ham, Ryan Fredericks (shoulder injury), Andriy Yarmolenko (thigh) and Jack Wilshere (groin) will all be staying in London.

Predicted line-ups

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

West Ham: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice; Snodgrass, Noble, Soucek, Antonio; Haller.

Key battles

Pablo Zabaleta vs Sadio Mane

In the absence of Fredericks, it may well fall upon Zabaleta to try to contain the fearsome Mane, scorer of Liverpool's winner in their last Premier League outing against Norwich.

It looks to be a mismatch on paper, but the 35-year-old will have to channel his vast experience if he is to keep perhaps the best left-sided attacker in the world quiet.

Aaron Cresswell and Robert Snodgrass vs Trent Alexander-Arnold

After Atletico Madrid neutralised the threat of Liverpool's full-backs to great effect, Moyes could look to repeat the trick with a similar system.

Playing four in defence and in midfield would allow the Hammers to double up on Alexander-Arnold, both in defence and on the counter-attack.

But the 21-year-old, who already has 12 assists to his name this season, will punish any lapses.

Naby Keita vs Declan Rice

If it is Keita who replaces Henderson, he will offer the Reds a new dimension: creativity from midfield.

Keita looks to execute devastating combination play with the Liverpool frontline, particularly Salah.

It might well be the job of Rice, the deepest-lying midfielder, to deny him the space he needs to carve out openings.

The view from the dugout

Klopp has called for an emphatic response from his players after the setback in Madrid. 

"There was nothing from last week that should set us back. We should look at it the other way. An opportunity to immediately strike back," he said, as quoted by

"We have a talented opponent coming to our home and they want to leave with the win.

"This is enough motivation. I will be happy if we take this approach into the match tonight. We’ll need to be at our very best - we know that."

It is a daunting task for West Ham, but Moyes is hoping the prospect of ending Liverpool's unbeaten run will motivate his players. 

"That’s why we love the game and that’s why we take part in the game, because you always hope that you’re going to be the team who can win. We’ll try and do that [on Monday], and let’s hope we can," he told the press.

"It’d mean a lot for me [to beat Liverpool]. Anfield is never an easy place for any manager or team to go to, but we’ll go there and do everything we can to get a result."