Liverpool: Sebastian Coates, Jose Enrique & Daniel Sturridge - Out
West Ham United: Andy Carroll, Alou Diarra, Mladen Petric, Winston Reid & Ricardo Vaz Te - Out
West Ham United: Ravel Morrison
Norwich City: DLLWL
Luis Suarez (pictured above letting loose to score the first of four against Norwich) has been identified as Liverpool's main threat by Sam Allardyce. According to the Hammers manager, West Ham have a 50% better chance of winning if they can silence Liverpool's dangerman.
Of course it easy to say one thing, harder to actually do it like Norwich found out on Wednesday. Yet there is hope for West Ham, away from home they have only conceded five goals. They are also a team of tough tacklers, in particular Diame and Noble who always give their all to the cause.
Arsenal and Hull, so far the only teams to have kept Suarez silent, did so through the work of the midfielders. Arsenal dominated possession through their superior footwork and in essence starved Suarez of service. The game against Norwich showed Suarez does not need service or indeed much proximity to find the back of the net, but he does need space. The more starved he became, the deeper in search of the ball he came and the deeper into danger he fell. The fact he made 3 dribbles against Arsenal suggests he had some success, but alas it was not enough.
"Against Liverpool they went with a 3-5-2 formation, the aim was to exploit the lack of space the KC stadium has and drown out the Liverpool attack that had been whittled down to Luis Suarez. This meant despite Liverpool's domination in possession, much of it was in front of the Hull defence. When Liverpool tried to get the ball to the feet of Suarez, he was swarmed by a sea of yellow and black stripes who looked to sting the life out of Liverpool's focal point. The fact Liverpool only registered nine shots despite having 62% possession and Luis Suarez could not manage a single dribble despite having 67 touches on the ball is testament to how sound Hull are tactically."
Quote from Scoop on the City
Quite clearly the Sam Allardyce is onto something when he states stopping Suarez is the key to stopping victory, but there are three factors I believe will make it difficult for Allardyce to put his plans into action:
- Coutinho - he may have been apart of the Liverpool squad that drew against West Ham last season, however he was stuck out on the left. Considering he has played the majority of Liverpool career on the left, and has done it rather well, it is a poor excuse for a quite performance. Nonetheless, it is not his preferred position and when the going is tough he is unlikely to make much of an impact from there. Against Norwich he played in his preferred playmaker role in the middle and was hugely influential. As screenshot five shows, he was able to receive the ball early and evade challenges with ease. Consequentially, it enabled Suarez to play closer to goal as Coutinho was able to travel distances, it also stopped the likes of Lucas having too many touches. Against West Ham he is likely to resuming playing in the middle.
- Luis Suarez is a different beast at home - 10 of his 13 goals this season have arrived at Anfield and even though Liverpool drew a blank with West Ham last season, it was due to ineffective finishing more than anything. As screenshot six will show you, Suarez dribbled past players on five occasions and he also had five shots - one hitting the post. It would take a brave man to predict the same thing would happen again.
- West Ham's best defender is out - Winston Reid has the center of West Ham's clean sheets this season. Since his injury West Ham have lost to Norwich 3-1; lost to Chelsea 3-0; lost to Crystal Palace 1-0. Playing with most men behind the ball is tougher than it seems as it is mentally and physically exhausting. If one player is not on song the whole plan falls apart.
Liverpool 3-0 West Ham United
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored