Five Talking Points - Liverpool



The London Stadium atmosphere, unbeaten runs, team selection and Manu Lanzini are among the main discussion points this weekend...


1. Five-star records 

West Ham United go into Sunday's game with Liverpool on not one, but two notable five-match unbeaten runs.

Not only are the Hammers without defeat in their previous five Premier League fixtures - this after a run of five straight defeats - but they are also five matches unbeaten against their opponents Liverpool.

Slaven Bilic has yet to taste defeat by Jurgen Klopp in English football, winning three and drawing one last season, before earning a deserved share of the spoils at Anfield in December.

The Hammers will be desperate to ensure both records are extended this weekend.


2. Atmosphere

London Stadium became West Ham United's home ground nine months ago, but it has arguably only become West Ham United's home more recently.

The Hammers have won seven of their 18 home Premier League matches, losing the same number.

Home defeats in the UEFA Europa League and Emirates FA Cup have further delayed the settling in period.

However, the Hammers have produced fine performances in their last three home games, against Swansea City, Everton and Tottenham - performances matched by the outstanding atmospheres produced by the Claret and Blue Army.

All three games have seen the team keep clean sheets, but they would arguably not have done so were it not for the noise created by the 54,000 home fans inside the ground.

Make no mistake about it - London Stadium is West Ham United's home.


3. Midfield issues

Havard Nordtveit
Slaven Bilic will have two big holes to fill in his midfield on Sunday.

Captain Mark Noble (abdomen) and Cheikhou Kouyate (wrist) have both undergone surgery since the win over Tottenham Hotspur in which both played a big part.

So, the manager needs to find replacements, and fortunately enough he has then close to hand.

Norway international Havard Nordtveit was impressive in the games prior to Noble's return from suspension, while Swiss star Edimilson Fernandes has also shone when called upon in this season.

While they are not exact like for like replacements, the pair are more than capable of performing to a level that Bilic requires.

Do not be surprised if both perform well against the Reds this weekend.


4. Which Liverpool?

Liverpool have been good this season, of that there is no doubt.

While they may not have challenged for the title, the Reds are firmly on course to regain their place in the Premier League's coveted top four.

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho took charge of Liverpool's rivals from down the M62 to much fanfare, but both look set to finish below the side managed by the exuberant Klopp.

The German has got the very best out of his squad without breaking the bank.

However, Liverpool remain inconsistent and are not guaranteed to produce a level of performance commensurate with their league position.

Yes, they have scored a lot of goals, but their defence is not a good as Chelsea's or Spurs', and both of them have come a cropper at London Stadium this season.

What price the Reds completing an unwanted yet memorable hat-trick?


5. Shining brightly

Manuel Lanzini won the Players' Player of the Year trophy at the Player Awards ceremony on Tuesday.

It is an accolade he will look back on fondly for the remainder of his career.

While the fans' endorsement is hugely important, as Michail Antonio and 38 other Hammer of the Year winners have confirmed since 1958, the endorsement of your peers is a feeling which every sportsperson cherishes.

In a season when the team lost their previous Hammer of the Year, and most creative player, midway through the campaign, Lanzini has stepped up and made things happen for his side.

With vital goals, a willingness to make himself available for the ball and relentless commitment, Lanzini has become the go-to guy for his colleagues in Claret and Blue.

He will undoubtedly fill the same role again on Sunday afternoon.