Liverpool to heap more misery on hapless Hammers
It's the battle of the under-fire managers at Anfield when Roy Hodgson's Liverpool side take on a West Ham team led by the beleaguered Avram Grant.
Both clubs are desperate for three points to ease their early season woes. Liverpool are 4/7 to get the win, the draw is 13/5 and if you expect West Ham to pull off a shock you can get 11/2.
When Liverpool beat Chelsea just two weeks ago it seemed The Reds had turned the corner and the new owners could relax in the knowledge that Roy Hodgson was their man for the foreseeable future. However, after two poor performances on the road at Wigan (drawing 1-1 in a game they should have lost) and Stoke (2-0 defeat) the pressure is back on the ex-Fulham boss. Some supporters where heard to chant for the return of ex-manager Kenny Daglish after going two behind at the Brittania Stadium last weekend.
I think Hodgson is actually coming in for some unfair stick and should be given at least until the end of the season to prove himself. There have a lot of mitigating factors to Liverpool's indifferent start including the poor form of Fernando Torres and the uncertainty surrounding the club's ownership issues which blighted his early days in the job.
They have showed signs that they are improving with a run of four wins recently and they will hope the defeat at Stoke is a blip on their road to recovery.
Steven Gerrard is likely to be out following an injury in the England friendly in midweek, an injury that incensed the Anfield staff after they had agreed the skipper would only play for 60 minutes of the game, he was left on for the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 defeat.
That means they will be more reliant on Fernando Torres to be their talisman, he has hit 44 goals in 47 Premier League appearances at Anfield and has found his shooting boots in recent weeks. He is 9/4 to score first. For those looking for a bigger price then look no further than Sotirios Kyrgiakos at 20/1. He has four goals from defence this season, including two in the Premier League and is an ever present threat from both corners and set-pieces.
West Ham have shown little this season to suggest that they are likely to cause an upset in this one. They lie rock bottom of the table and have not managed a Premier League win since they beat Spurs back in September.
They seem to have gone backwards since Avram Grant has taken over and he is 7/4 second favourite to be the next manager to leave his post despite a vote of confidence from the board that appointed just a few months ago. We don't believe those assurances carry much weight, he is 8/15 not the be the manager on the first day of next season.
A look at the OPTA Stats for this game will not inspire West Ham fans or their backers with any confidence. They show that they have not won an away game in 24 matches, keeping a clean sheet only once in that time.
The Hammers also have and awful record at Anfield failing to win in their last 38 league visits, dating back to September 1963, failing to score in 27 of those games.
The recent home game against Blackpool was seen as the ideal opportunity to kick-start their season but they could manage only a 0-0 draw with the visitors having the majority of the good chances.
I think it will be a long hard season for The Hammers which will ultimately end in relegation. You can back them at 4/6 for the drop, I would take that price whilst you still can as I expect it to be a lot shorter in the coming weeks.
All seems to point to a home win I would not put you off from backing Liverpool at 4/7. To get some value for what I expect will be a comfortable win you can back Liverpool to be winning at half-time and full-time at 11/8 and on the Handicap (-1) at 8/5. They are 11/4 to win both halves for the more ambitious punters.