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Thiago vs. Soucek & knock-on effect of Van Dijk’s injury – The view from West Ham

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West Ham are flying at the moment, threatening to finish in the European places, but will Liverpool be too strong for them this weekend?

The Reds made a crucial return to form on Thursday night, winning 3-1 away to Tottenham and producing one of their best displays of the season.

Much-needed confidence will have returned to the squad, but they must now be ruthless and find a run of form that sees them strengthen their Premier League title hopes.

Sunday’s trip to the Hammers looks awkward, however, with the Hammers sitting fifth in the table and winning their last six matches in all competitions.

Ahead of the game, we got in touch with Hammers Chat (@hammers_chat) to get their thoughts on a resurgent West Ham, Liverpool’s title chances and the weekend encounter.

 

How happy are you with West Ham’s first half of the season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2020: Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (L) and West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

Extremely happy. In fact, I still can’t believe it, to be honest!

I would have been happy with a top-half finish in the Premier League before the season started, but I am starting to dream about European football…cautiously.

 

How good a job is David Moyes doing in east London?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2020: West Ham United's manager David Moyes (L) chats with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

I am very pleased with Moyes.

Admittedly, I have never been his biggest fan, but he is doing a superb job with a small squad, winning six games in a row.

West Ham look fit, organised and they work hard, both for themselves and for each other.

The harmony in the squad is similar to what we saw at Liverpool last season and we go into every game confident we won’t lose.

 

Who have been your three best players so far this season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2019: West Ham United's Declan Rice applauds the away supporters after the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and West Ham United FC at Goodison Park. Everton won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tomas Soucek, Angelo Ogbonna and Declan Rice.

Soucek has been incredible and is possibly the best finisher at the entire club, constantly looking to get into the box.

That’s now seven league goals in 20 league appearances this season from midfield, including two at Crystal Palace in midweek.

Ogbonna is one of the best centre-backs in the league, in my opinion, and Rice is a classy footballer who has been excellent.

 

What do you think has gone wrong at Liverpool recently, prior to the Spurs win?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk walks off injured during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Injuries, simple as that.

Liverpool haven’t only lost the best centre-back in the league, but the best defensive midfielder around has also had to fill in at the back.

The Reds just look a bit flat this season – more so recently, barring the Tottenham game – and are no longer grinding out wins late on like they did last season.

 

Do you still fancy them to retain the Premier League title?

I don’t, no. But then again, who knows this season? The fear factor for every side seems to have gone.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday, who do you fear most?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I would have to say Mohamed Salah.

Vladimir Coufal has been brilliant at right-back, and while Aaron Cresswell has also been really good on the left, I would expect Salah to get a few chances and cause trouble cutting in.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 28, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

Thiago vs. Soucek stands out for me.

The Spaniard is someone who will have to keep an eye on Soucek and also Said Benrahma in there, too.

It’s probably easier to mark the latter, as much of his work is on the ball, but Soucek is dangerous off it with his running.

Michail Antonio up against any makeshift centre-back is also key. He is big and strong, so will cause Liverpool’s defensive line big issues.

He should have had a hat-trick against Crystal Palace, but that will only motivate him more.

 

Finally, hit us with your prediction…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I will go for West Ham 1-0 Liverpool.

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