Henry Jackson

Feature Writer

Liverpool’s trips to West Ham and Crystal Palace must not be taken lightly

While many feel Liverpool’s home games with Manchester City and Chelsea will define their 2013/14 title challenge, the trips to Upton Park and Selhurst Park could prove just as tough, says Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet).

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 23, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premiership match against Swansea City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers during the Premier Leaue match against Swansea City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The most dangerous thing any Liverpool fan can do in this thrilling title run-in is assume that the Premier League will be decided by the games against Manchester City and Chelsea at Anfield.

Of course, these two matches will go a long way to deciding whether the Reds can do the unthinkable and win the league, but there are other equally tricky challenges that lie ahead for Brendan Rodgers and his side.

The two that stand out are the trips to Upton Park and Selhurst Park – two of the most old-school, intimidating grounds in England – to face West Ham and Crystal Palace. They face the Hammers on Sunday, and travel to south London to face Tony Pulis’ side in their penultimate game of the season.

Both of these games will be very challenging, and any fan flippant enough to dismiss them as easy Liverpool wins needs their head tested. Both Sam Allardyce and Pulis have created sides that are very physical, solid defensively and brimming with a great work ethic.

Both make it very difficult for their opponents to get through them, and they cause constant problems from set pieces too. Liverpool will have to conquer these aspects brilliantly if they are to win both games. At times they will have to be gritty; something not associated with them at all this season.

The fact that Palace are in the relegation dogfight means that there will be a huge amount riding on that game, while West Ham will want to ensure their safety with a win this weekend. At this stage of the season you want to play as many mid-table sides as possible, given that their intensity often dips and they have one eye on their summer holidays.

WEST HAM

Much of the build-up to this game is bound to centre around Andy Carroll. The 25-year-old’s failed Anfield career was much-publicised, mainly because of the vast fee Liverpool signed him for back in January 2011.

Although the striker was never really going to make the grade as a Reds player, there can be no doubting that he will be a huge threat on Sunday. The fact that he has a point to prove against his former employer only increases that threat. Liverpool are not always the most dominant in the air, and there are not many better in that respect when it comes to Carroll.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 9, 2012: West Ham United'S manager Sam Allardyce during the Premiership match against Liverpool at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Allardyce’s preference for a direct, long-ball style means that Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger will be peppered throughout. It’s a massive test of both of their resolve. There may even be an argument for bringing in Mamadou Sakho for Agger, such is his superiority aerially.

If Liverpool score early against West Ham it could become a fairly easy day at the office for the title hopefuls, but if they go 1-0 down they will do very well to win the game.

CRYSTAL PALACE

If Liverpool need any reminding of the threat Pulis’ side pose, they simply have to look at what happened to Chelsea at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Jose Mourinho’s side’s title chances were dealt an enormous blow, and Palace’s robust style caused them plenty of problems all game.

There is every chance that both Liverpool and Palace will be going into this game on May 3rd having to win. Rodgers and his players will want this to be the case, as it may mean Pulis adopts a more attacking style than usual.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 7, 2012: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers argues with Stoke City's manager Tony Pulis during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers and Pulis – Chalk and cheese. Photo: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda.

Say what you like about the former Stoke boss, but he is very good as what he does as a manager; stifling and frustrating the opposition through sheer hard work and physicality.

On paper, the Reds should win this game fairly comfortably, but the pressure they will be playing under, coupled with Palace’s never-say-die attitude, will make this another very stern test.

NORWICH

Although perhaps not as physical and intimidating as the two mentioned above, Liverpool’s visit to Carrow Road to face Norwich on 20th April is another potentially tough outing.

The midday kick-off is not ideal for either side, and just four defeats in 16 home league games proves that Chris Hughton’s side will be hard to beat. Liverpool’s record has been superb there of late, and they will have to keep that going to sustain their title challenge.

CONCLUSION

Liverpool are six wins away from arguably the greatest day in the club’s history, and a maiden Premier League title.

If they are to achieve the previously unthinkable and lift the trophy on May 11th, they will have to play just as well against West Ham and Crystal Palace as they do against Manchester City and Chelsea.

Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.
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  • jtppn

    I think we are long past thinking any game is easy and that 3pts is a given against even the so called lesser sides (always variables: sending offs. ref mistakes, bad luck, off day…..etc)

    We have stood up to most challenges since Jan 2014 so far, we know straight victories will achieve the ultimate goal, our hunger and determination has been commendable.

    We have the ability and skill, and i trust the manager and players to get the job done.

  • jtppn

    I’d go along with the Sakho idea v West Ham, or we need to be first to the second ball, title credentials to be tested but still expect the 3pts.

    Now that most are fit and available, good opportunity to show flexibility if needed.

  • @RedOneTactics

    Whatever way it goes in these next six games, I am incredibly proud of what Brendan and the lads have done this year. We have been consistent in our performances for over a year now and the football being played gets more polished almost by the week. With one or two additions in the summer we can keep this red train rolling.

  • JTLFC

    Every game has its own importance and its a precious 3pts who ever the Reds play.
    6 Cup Finals as you would say. COYR!!!

  • Lee

    West Ham for me is the biggest problem, to many ex Kop players looking for revenge and a style of play which can cause us problems. Altidore for Sunderland is useless yet muscled his way through us a few times and Carroll is much better.player and could potentially win this game for West Ham. Skrtel and Agger deal with strikers who like the ball at their feet with ease but in the air I worry and the amount of times they will crash through Any Carrol and give a free kick away around the box could tell.
    However, our attack is phenominal and the last 15 mins will be crucial as their older players will tire although, I believe if we score early we will win comftably.
    If Chelsea had strikers they would have beat Palace and our stikeforce for me will beat them with ease, 11 men behind the ball for Palace and an early goal will make all the difference.
    P.S Yonoplanka agent flew into Liverpool yesterday lets hope its to sign him! Worldy of a player

    • Joe Bloggs

      Regarding Kono’s agent James Lippett. He could be in town for the Grand National on 5th Apr at Aintree, Liverpool. May have nothing to do with Kono.

  • Dubai Reds

    Peeps. I think it’s very important we all get in double sessions with Dr Steve Peters, everybody involved with LFC global. Go read his book the Chimp Paradox because its all about BELIEF and conquering that 15% negativity. Alex Ferguson as much as a gobshite installed this mentality even without Steve Peters but rubber-stamped the mental confidence, HOW TO BE A WINNER. WE CAN DO THIS AND DOMINATE OUR DOUBTS.

    • Lamont Cranston

      We have only begun. LFC is playing the game how it should be played. RELENTLESS. FEARLESS. MERCILESS

  • CARR71

    i would go 3 5 2 for the west ham game bring sakho in for flanagan and lucas in for johnson

  • allaboutanfield

    Liverpool should continue to stay focus.One game at a time.

  • Abyss

    Actually, Crystal Palace away will probably be our third toughest match of the six. Having said that, Liverpool FC are in a really good place right now. I see absolutely no problems in LFC finishing off the lesser teams. We may win it while conceding 3 goals but we will win it.