By Christopher Boulay
Liverpool heads to East London on Sunday to take on one of the most impressive clubs of this Premier League season. However, Brendan Rodgers’ side needs to find a way to win without its best goalscorer.
Luis Suarez is suspended from the match due to card accumulation, and this now puts the club in a position many supporters feared at the end of the summer transfer window. There are now no first team forwards fit in the squad. This will be problematic, as Suarez leads Liverpool with 10 goals in 15 league matches. The makeshift squad setup will need to be perfect to keep pace with West Ham. Jonjo Shelvey will likely have to play out of position to lead the attack for the Reds.
West Ham’s attack will also be short-handed in attack, but not nearly as bad as its opponent. Andy Carroll, who is on loan from Liverpool, is ineligible for this match, but is also out with a knee injury. This will require Carlton Cole and Matt Jarvis to compensate for the forward’s presence.
Sam Allardyce has his club flying high. The club was expected to struggle, but has been solidly higher than midtable for much of the season. With 22 points, it may no longer be about whether the Hammers can stay up, but whether or not they can fight for a place in Europe.
Liverpool is coming off of a big win against Udinese that put the club through to the knockout round of the Europa League. The win may give the club an extra motivational boost to get through the last group of matches before the transfer window opens in January, when reinforcements can be acquired.
Nuri Sahin and Steven Gerrard may be in the squad, as both should be recovered from issues. Sahin broke his nose in the match against Udinese, while Gerrard dealt with an illness. Only Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly are out for the long term.
West Ham United v Liverpool
When: Sunday, December 9, 1100 EST/1600 GMT
Where: Boleyn Ground, Upton Park, London
Previous Premier League match: West Ham 3-1 Chelsea, Liverpool 1-0 Southampton
League Position 2011-12: Liverpool 12th (19 points), West Ham 10th (22 points)
Projected West Ham Starting 11
DEF: O’Brien, Reid, Collins, McCartney
MID: Noble, Diame, Nolan
FW: Maiga, Cole, Jarvis
Subs from: Spiegel, Demel, Potts, Spence, Taylor, Tomkins, Moncur, Fanimo, O’Neil
Projected Liverpool Starting 11
DEF: Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson
MID: Gerrard, Lucas, Allen
FW: Sterling, Shelvey, Suso
Subs from: Jones, Flanagan, Wisdom, Coates, Carragher, Robinson, Cole, Sahin, , Downing, Assaidi, Morgan, Yesil
Interact: What’s your projected lineup and final score prediction? Comment below.