West Ham vs. Liverpool Soccer Picks & Odds

Lee Phelps

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 4:11 PM GMT

If I had been providing soccer picks for this match 2 weeks ago after Liverpool had mauled Tottenham & West Ham had lost 3-1 at home to Southampton, I’d be all over the Reds, but a lot has changed since then.

Hammer Time
West Ham have performed well in their two away games, beating Crystal Palace 3-1 and drawing 2-2 at Hull, in a game they deserved to win, but it’s been a different story at Upton Park, where the fans are growing more and more impatient with the manager Sam Allardyce. Let’s not forget the Hammers booed his side off the pitch after beating Hull 2-1 in East Yorkshire last season, such was their disdain for his style of football.

I was reading the ClaretAndHugh Blog this week, it outlines an interesting dilemma for the man in charge: “Sam, it seems, has taken to heart the owners request/demand for a more style and a blend of entertaining football. His choice and use of the new players worked well as he set up with two genuine forward players behind the one up front, and that wasn’t Diafra Sakho who I would have thought was more a Sam-type of forward than Valencia. However, after the game, via social networks, there seemed still to be a divide between the pro and anti-Sam camps.”

Big Sam doesn’t strike me as someone who really cares what the fans think, he gets paid the big money to keep his side in the Premier League, but he has played attractive football before when he had the players capable of doing it and keeping things tight at the other end. He took Bolton into Europe way back when they had quality players nearing the end of their careers.

He has put out a 4-2-3-1 formation until the Hull match when it was more of a 4-4-2, with Zarate joining in the attack. Diafra Sakho and strike partner Enner Valencia can form a formidable pair for the Hammers and had a fantastic start, especially Valencia’s brilliant strike.

The big question is what Sam does next? Is he brave enough to play in the same away against Liverpool? Or will he revert to type and be happy with a draw?

 

Lacklustre Liverpool
All of a sudden Brendan Rodgers’ team looks to have lost its spark. They were poor against an Aston Villa team who love to counter-attack an open side and the Champions League display at home to Ludogorets was strange. The players looked like it was their first game together, there was none of that intricate, snappy passing. It was a starting line-up that had a different look to it, because of Sturridge’s absence.

The issue for me was trying to use Philippe Coutinho at the base of the three in a 4-2-3-1 and Mario Balotelli as a lone striker. As soon as Fabio Borini came on the team looked more balanced with a 4-4-2, and a diamond midfield. Stephen Gerrard not only scored the winning goal, but also had very impressive stats, with 100% of tackles and aerial duels won, 93% pass accuracy, two chances created and a goal. Gerrard of course is a thorn in West Ham’s side. Remember the FA Cup final, when he single-handedly snatched the trophy from their hands? The Liverpool captain has scored seven league goals against the Londoners, with six them of hitting the back of the net at the Boleyn Ground. He’s 14/5 to score in this one.

 

Free Pick Time
With plenty of debate on how both sides will shape up, I’m reluctant to back Liverpool at 4/5 given their efforts in midweek in the Champions League, while West Ham probably aren’t big enough at 4/1 given their home results so far. What I can see are goals in the live Sky game. Liverpool’s Premier League away games since the start of 2014 have featured 51 goals in 11 games. The Merseysiders have scored 33 of the 51. In fact they have only failed to score three or more in three of the 11. Over 3.5 goals is 2/1 on soccer odds for this game, which I like given the attacking nature of West Ham’s trip to Hull and Liverpool’s need to ‘bounce back’.

Free Soccer Pick: If I was pressed on a match result selection, I would have to side with West Ham on the win or draw at 23/20 at Pinnacle.

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