New-look West Ham capable of finding the net at Liverpool
Betting tips for the Premier League clash at Anfield
Sky Sports Premier League, 1.30pm Sunday
A pre-season featuring wins over both Manchester giants and a pair of Italian heavyweights on top of a sparkling transfer window has got the red half of Merseyside more excited than for many years – but it’s still way too early in the season to be piling into Jurgen Klopp’s men at 2-7.
Eleven weeks after Liverpool brought the curtain down on 2017-18 with a Champions League final against Real Madrid, Klopp’s side are ready to go again and feeling suitably upbeat.
Their summer results were excellent and their summer signings have been outstanding, which is why they are second favourites for the title.
The mood around Anfield is unimaginably optimistic going into the new campaign and opponents West Ham - who they have beaten 4-1, 4-1 and 4-0 on their last three encounters - aren’t expected to represent much of a challenge.
However, it could be unwise to be backing them at such a skinny price to prove the point.
West Ham may not be obdurate enough to withstand the waves of pressure that are going to come their way. And they too might be hard to trust after a major summer overhaul under new gaffer Manuel Pellegrini.
It could be an open contest – because that’s the way Liverpool like it – with the home team bidding to extend a summer scoring spree in which the highlight was smacking five past Napoli. But Klopp has manpower issues in defence and a new keeper in Allison to integrate into the side and West Ham ought to be confident of exposing any teething problems at the back.
Liverpool to win with both teams finding the net looks the best selection.
The Hammers are set to be more attacking under ex-City chief Pellegrini than they were under David Moyes with the Chilean bringing in new faces to beef up his forward line.
It’s hard to predict whether Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Perez will hit the ground running, but adding them to a squad already containing Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez means you can understand the excitement in East London.
It’s hard to see Pellegrini fielding a front two in this match and he has tried several systems in a pre-season that was rarely mind-blowing but generally successful.
He will be well aware that West Ham were a soft touch on the road last term when they conceded 42 goals, which was the worst away record in the division by four.
Weathering the Liverpool storm will be a major test and Pellegrini will know exactly what to expect.
Klopp has his favoured front three in Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah but Daniel Sturridge has also looked sharp in pre-season and Xherdan Shaqiri offers something different.
The Liverpool pressure will surely tell but the Hammers can get something, even if it’s only a goal, in what should be a decent game.
Liverpool to win & both teams to score
1pt 17-10 general
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Dejan Lovren is ruled out, Ragnar Klavan is crocked while Joel Matip and Joe Gomez face tests. Young centre-back Nat Phillips is on standby for a first-team debut after impressing in pre-season. Fabinho is a doubt.
Winston Reid and Andy Carroll are injured. Andriy Yarmolenko is a doubt.
Liverpool’s two season-openers under Jurgen Klopp have produced 13 goals.
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