Liverpool take on West Ham tomorrow afternoon looking to maintain the pressure on league leaders Manchester City. The Reds need another win in the capital to keep the momentum going ahead of the do-or-die clash with Pep Guardiola next Sunday. Keeping Tomas Soucek quiet will be key, then, for Jurgen Klopp and his team.
Another must win game
Liverpool cannot afford anything less than a victory given the current gap at the top.
The English champions currently trail City in the league standings by four points, despite having played a game more. Liverpool could be seven points behind by the time kick-off looms in East London.
Liverpool have failed to make it back-to-back victories in the league since the 7-0 pre-Christmas thumping at Selhurst Park.
David Moyes’ side can leapfrog the Reds with a win, too.
Considering City are expected to win against Sheffield United, Liverpool cannot afford any slip-ups ahead their second trip to the capital in the space of three days.
Tomas Soucek form
One of the Hammers’ outstanding players this season has been none-other than 25-year-old Tomas Soucek.
The £19.1 million [BBC] signing from Slavia Prague has been a mainstay in Moyes’ team in 2020/21. Soucek hasn’t missed a single minute of Premier League action, too.
Remarkably, he’s also the Hammers’ joint top-scorer alongside the recently departed Sebastien Haller with seven league goals. He has scored 10 times in 34 West Ham appearances since signing in January last year.
Soucek, as well as Declan Rice, are undoubtedly the two that look to control the midfield and stopping both of them could go a long way in securing victory.
Klopp himself couldn’t help but laud the towering Czech Republic international, telling the club’s official website: “[They have] brought in the right players, I think everybody’s really impressed about the goal threat of Soucek, that’s incredible.
“Antonio is back. It’s just settled now. It obviously took a little bit [of time], that’s normal as well, and last year they really had to fight hard for staying in the league but now they are longer together and it works out.”
How can Liverpool combat this?
Ironically, Liverpool faced a similar daunting midfield proposition against Spurs in midweek.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele, too, are amongst the best performers in the league this season.
The likes of James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara certainly got the better of the Lilywhites’ duo on Thursday night, though.
Wijnaldum, in particular, was totally unplayable at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He was a menace from start to finish, soaking up pressure and constantly winning the ball back for his team.
Alongside Thiago, the midfield pair really are starting to build an exciting understanding together. Both players certainly have to start on Sunday.