Strengthened Liverpool Face West Ham Test


Jurgen Klopp understands why expectations are high at Liverpool after the club added some impressive players in the summer transfer window.

The Reds brought in Brazilians Alisson Becker and Fabinho, a goalkeeper and utility player, plus Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke and Guinea midfielder Naby Keita from RB Leipzig.

Many pundits see Liverpool as the team most likely to challenge champions Manchester City for the Premier League title, and Klopp said: “My own expectations are always high.

“Make the best of it. It was pretty normal there would be one season when we would spend more money. We had to create a squad which is strong enough and wide enough to cope with the Premier League.

“People ask me already if it’s the best squad we have ever had – I don’t think about that because it’s not about what we have now, it’s about what we make of it. It’s about how often we deliver.”

New manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident West Ham have built a squad to be competitive in the Premier League.

The Hammers have spent around £100m on nine new signings this summer including Lucas Perez, Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere and Felipe Anderson.

Ahead of the season opener at Liverpool today, Pellegrini said: “When I talked with the owners, we agreed we needed to work on a project.

“They wanted to invest money to bring in players. We have improved the squad, all of the players are here because I asked for them.

“For me as a manager, it’s difficult when you don’t have options. We have options, I choose the starting XI and they know that during the whole season, you need a strong squad.

“We have two players in each position and they must work in a competitive way and it’s my duty to pick the team I think is the best.”

New signing Fabinho faces a late fitness test before Klopp decides whether he can make his debut. The Brazilian had a scan on a muscle injury on Thursday but although that came back clear the midfielder was sent home from training after feeling unwell.

Joe Gomez is expected to be fit after missing Tuesday’s friendly against Torino but fellow defenders Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are unlikely to be ready while World Cup finalist Dejan Lovren will not be considered having only returned from extended leave at the weekend.

West Ham will be without Andy Carroll (ankle), Winston Reid (knee), Manuel Lanzini (ACL) and Michail Antonio (ACL) while Yarmolenko (hip) is a doubt.

Edimilson Fernandes has a slight knock but Pellegrini confirmed the rest of his squad is fit.

Liverpool have won each of their last three league games against West Ham, scoring four goals in each of those victories; they’ve never scored 4+ goals in four consecutive top-flight games against a single opponent.

Against no other side have West Ham lost more top-flight games than against Liverpool (61, level with Everton).

West Ham have won only one of their last 45 top-flight visits to Anfield to face Liverpool (D12 L32), with that win coming in August 2015 (3-0).

West Ham have lost their season opener 11 times in the Premier League, more than any other side.

Liverpool have scored four goals in each of their last three Premier League clashes with West Ham – the only side to have scored 4+ against another in four straight games in the competition are Tottenham against Stoke.

Sadio Mane has been directly involved in four goals in his three Premier League appearances for Liverpool against West Ham (1 goal, 3 assists).

The last Liverpool player to score in three consecutive opening top-flight fixtures – as Sadio Mane could do – was John Barnes between 1989-90 and 1991-92.

New West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has lost more Premier League games against Liverpool than he has vs any other opponent in the competition (P6 W2 D0 L4).