West Ham United take on Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday in a 4:30pm kick-off at the London Stadium.
Few people would have had this meeting down as a potential battle for finishing in the top four at this stage of the season, but it could well be with two points separating the champions and David Moyes’ side in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Liverpool are odds-on 3/4 favourites to win the match, with a fifth consecutive league win for the Hammers priced at 10/3. The draw is 3/1.
Liverpool seem to have rediscovered their attacking mojo in the last week, scoring five goals combined away to Manchester United and Tottenham.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s side are likely to be without the injured Fabinho and Joel Matip at the heart of the defence, so it’s very difficult to envisage the Reds keeping a clean sheet.
Indeed, West Ham have scored in each of their last nine home games in the PL, with the red-hot Michail Antonio bagging five goals in eight career league games against Liverpool, so I’m backing Both Teams To Score.
Jonathan Moss officiates the intriguing battle, with the 50-year-old’s card per game rate dropping to 2.64 in his 11 PL matches so far this season.
In fact, Moss has shown fewer than three cards overall in seven of his last eight PL games, so I’m going to back both teams to receive Under 3 Cards each on top of BTTS.
Both sides have only received two or more cards in seven of their 20 PL games, while West Ham’s opponents don’t tend to be carded too frequently, so I can’t see Moss showing either side 3+ cards:
If you fancy a longshot, Antonio to score and Nathaniel Phillips to be carded is 20/1.
Phillips is likely to come into the side if Matip’s ankle injury rules him out of action on Sunday, with 6/1 a great price considering Phillips has been booked in both of his last two league appearances.
The highest level the 24-year-old had played at until this season was the second tier of German football, with six tackles, nine fouls and two cautions in 315 minutes of football suggesting he is in for a tough afternoon against the pacey and physically dominating Antonio.
Vladimir Coufal (9/2) won’t exactly be thrilled by the prospect of defending against Sadio Mane, to be fair, with Craig Dawson (5/1) likely to be on hand nearby.
Perhaps a better bet is backing Coufal to make 4+ tackles at 7/4 (bet365) against the livewire Mane, who averages 3.6 dribbles per game (and Andrew Robertson behind him averaging 1.6).
Coufal averages 2.8 tackles per game and has made 3+ tackles in nine of his 16 PL games this season, so I’m happy to back him at a line one higher as plenty of right-backs (or right centre-backs in a three) have comfortably made 4+ against Mane this season (Serge Aurier hit 10 in December for example!).
Mohamed Salah, Mane and Antonio are obvious players to look out for in the shots on target markets, with Roberto Firmino good value to score anytime at 13/5 (Sky Bet), but evens (Betfair) for Tomas Soucek particularly catches my eye after the Czech Republic midfielder has hit the target eight times in his last six league games.
Like Soucek, meanwhile, Trent Alexander-Arnold scored in midweek, with the Liverpool right-back hitting the target in each of his last three matches. He’s 15/8 to do so again, with a Trent, Soucek and Said Benhrama (1+ SOT 7/11 league apps for West Ham) treble paying 12/1.
Really looking forward to this one – let’s hope it’s better than what Saturday served up!