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Liverpool V West Ham at Anfield : Match Preview

06 Dec 2013 15:31:00

Liverpool V West Ham at Anfield : Match Preview

Liverpool V West Ham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Allen sees the strength in Anfield

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen believes Anfield has once again become a fortress where opposition teams will arrive fearing an in-form Luis Suarez.


The Reds have scored 13 goals in their last three matches at home - where they have lost once since February.


Suarez has grabbed nine of those goals, including a brilliant four against Norwich in midweek, and is the top flight's leading marksman with 13 in just nine games - which has extended his goalscoring run to 25 in his last 24 Premier League appearances.


Only Manchester City, with 29, have scored more home league goals than Liverpool (18) this season and with Saturday's visitors West Ham not having won at Anfield in the league since September 1963, keeping just two clean sheets in the last 13 league visits, the statistics point to that sequence being extended.


"To gain that momentum it strikes fear into the teams coming here," said the Wales international.


"Everyone is going to be talking about Luis and when you see the goals he scored (against Norwich) they know they will not have an easy game coming here - it has that sort of effect.


"We really want to get that feeling of being unbeatable at home. Slowly it is coming back.


"You have setbacks, that is inevitable but I think we are getting much more consistent.


"The away game at Hull (a 3-1 defeat last Sunday) was a bit of a shock because it was a disappointing performance but we have put it behind us, learned from it and set the record straight straight away."


Suarez has assumed the goalscoring responsibility with fellow striker Daniel Sturridge, who has scored nine goals, out until next month with a sprained ankle.


Liverpool's next highest goalscorer in the league is captain Steven Gerrard with three but Allen believes the goals can be found throughout the side - should Suarez decide to share the load.


"There is nothing that affects Luis, he has been through a lot, just shakes it off and gets on with it," he added.


"It is disappointing to lose someone of Sturridge's quality of course but we have quality throughout the squad."


Youngster Raheem Sterling marked his 50th appearance for the club with a goal against Norwich on Wednesday and after his first back-to-back league starts since January 2.


Earlier in the season there had been talk about the England international, who turns 19 on Sunday, going out on loan to gain more playing time but that will now not be the case.


"I thought his finish on Wednesday night was excellent. It probably got lost in and among Luis' goals and his assist," said Rodgers.


"He knows he's got to add the numbers to his game in terms of the goals and assists.


"We've encouraged the front players to take more of a risk and get into the box.


"We mustn't forget that he's a boy of 18 years of age, who is developing all the time.


"The spell out of the team doesn't do him any harm. He's learning from very good players here and he knows that when he goes into the side he has the confidence of the manager and his team-mates to go and perform.


"Raheem has been in the squad and featured in a lot of the games even if he hasn't started so certainly at this moment in time we wouldn't be considering a loan."


West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will resist any temptation to throw Andy Carroll back in to his side despite the Hammers hovering just above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.


England striker Carroll has not featured for West Ham since he became the club's record signing in the summer, with a troublesome heel injury keeping him on the sidelines.


Allardyce's side have struggled in his absence, winning just three games and - following Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace - they now sit only three points clear of 18th-placed Fulham.


Carroll, 24, returned to training at West Ham's Chadwell Heath training ground on Thursday after a prolonged period of treatment in Belgium and Holland.


But Allardyce is willing to play the waiting game with his star forward, meaning Carroll will not be in contention for a place in the West Ham squad that travels to face his former side Liverpool on Saturday.


"We will get him back as quick as we possibly can, but my position is to take a sensible view," said Allardyce.


"We are in a difficult position at the minute but I can't panic into putting Andy in too quickly. It is my responsibility to make sure he is there to stay when he comes back onto the field, and not just one or two games.


"In the position we're in at the moment it is extremely tough to resist putting him in. I'd like to put him on the bench at Liverpool, but that would be rather stupid."


Carroll enjoyed a relatively successful season on loan at Upton Park last year before co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold worked out a package to bring the striker to the club on a permanent basis.


Along with Stewart Downing, also recruited from Anfield, Carroll was the big hope for West Ham as they looked to build on an impressive 10th-placed finish on their return to the top flight.


But without Carroll, Allardyce has resorted to playing a striker-less formation in recent games, only reverting back to playing Modibo Maiga as his lone forward in last weekend's much-needed 3-0 win over Fulham.


Carlton Cole was also brought back after being allowed to leave during the summer whilst former Cottagers' striker Mladen Petric was signed on a free transfer - but hopes will now be pinned on Carroll returning and helping to fire West Ham up the table.


Allardyce admits Carroll will be champing at the bit to be involved as soon as possible but it is something the manager refused to risk.


He said: "Andy will want to play quicker than he should and I'll have to calm him down until the specialist says it's time for him to get in and amongst it again. Hopefully he'll then have an impact when he returns.


"I'd love to have him available and would love to have had him available over the last few weeks, but the rest of the team need to maintain their confidence and do a bit more of what they did against Fulham."


Saturday's opponents Liverpool go in to the match on the back of a 5-1 home victory over Norwich in which Suarez once again grabbed the headlines.


The Uruguay international was signed in the same transfer window as Carroll but has enjoyed a much better spell at Anfield than his English counterpart.


Suarez struck four of the goals in the rout and Allardyce knows he can cause trouble for his defence once more this weekend.


"Obviously Luis Suarez is the man," Allardyce added.


"Certainly if you can't control Luis Suarez, on what you saw the other night against Norwich, it's certainly going to be one where he is rattling the goals in.


"When you consider he has been suspended before he started playing again, to be top scorer in the Barclays Premier League shows he is the main man at Liverpool at the moment.


"When you go there on the back of the four goals he scored in a 5-1 win, it makes life even more difficult, but we have to take up the challenge to try to nullify his great talent."


West Ham picked up a point at Anfield last season with a 0-0 draw in April and Allardyce believes starving Suarez of service is crucial if such a result is to be repeated.


"As a team, we need to work on closing the opposition down and stopping their really good passers from providing the service that he needs," he said.


"Of course, when we are in possession, we can't give the ball away too easily because Luis Suarez can't play if we've got possession. We have to do as much as we can when we've got the ball."


West Ham will be without Ravel Morrison after the midfielder picked up his fifth booking of the season in midweek.


The 20-year-old was cautioned after the final whistle in Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace and will serve a one-match ban, meaning he will sit out at Anfield.


Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) and Razvan Rat (hamstring) are likely to miss out with George McCartney and Alou Diarra (both knee) also absent.



PA

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