Georginio Wijnaldum

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Watch Live: West Ham vs. Liverpool

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With a pair of intra-top end battles coming Sunday, Liverpool hopes a trip to West Ham can help them close ground (Watch live at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jordan Henderson misses out for Liverpool, though Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum both passed fitness tests. Ragnar Klavan starts over Dejan Lovren with Joel Matip.

The Irons have Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez up top, and leave big money signing Marko Arnautovic on the bench.

LINEUPS

West Ham: Hart, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Reid, Fernandes, Obiang, Kouyate, Noble, Lanzini, Ayew, Chicharito. Subs: Adrian, Rice, Masuaku, Haksabanovic, Arnautovic, Carroll, Sakho.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Klavan, Moreno, Can, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Milner, Grujic, Sturridge, Solanke.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Liverpool

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  • Hammers 4-2-2 in last 8 vs. Reds
  • Liverpool won last tilt 4-0
  • Reds lead all-time 69W-37D-28L

Liverpool looks to build on a pair of clean sheets when it visits the London Stadium to face Slaven Bilic and desperate West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds blanked Huddersfield Town last weekend before shutting out Maribor in the UEFA Champions League. West Ham has scored more freely than either opponent this season.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Irons haven’t won in three-straight Premier League matches, but did pick up a significant League Cup win over Spurs last week. That win made a late concession to draw Crystal Palace on Saturday sting even more.

Klopp said Philippe Coutinho is out but Sadio Mane may be able to come off the bench. Georginio Wijnaldum could also make an appearance if need be.

What they’re saying

West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell on rebounding from Palace““We know it’s frustrating at times. If you’re a fan sitting there you can understand why and we certainly fully understand. We need to come together as one. We’ve been working hard week in and week out to put it right. We want to generate that atmosphere, against a team like Liverpool, and put it right.”

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp on who will take the next pen“I really understand it’s a big story but in the past it is not to change. We will never try to get penalties, but when we have them in future we will score from the penalty spot, 100 per cent. We only have to make sure [we are] not getting this story all over the season because it’s a good opportunity to score when you have a penalty. The boys are all able to do it. As I said, (Milner’s) penalty was really, really good, but it was a brilliant save and that’s something we have to respect as well.”

Prediction

If West Ham’s men are still playing for their boss, they stand a good chance at getting a point or better against a banged up Liverpool. If the effort’s there, the Hammers just may scoot away with a 2-1 win.

Tactics Session: Liverpool’s midfield to blame for poor defending, too

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Here’s something said by anyone and everyone who’s watched an hour of the Premier League over the last 24 months: Liverpool won’t win the PL title until Jurgen Klopp sorts out that shambolic defense.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Well, duh, and thanks for really going out on a limb with that one.

On Saturday, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle went error-by-error in picking apart one of the Reds’ many defensive breakdowns (above video) during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. In short, Dejan Lovern, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Simon Mignolet were all guilty of critical errors as Harry Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes. There’s another group of players, though, which is worth considering as opponents continue to pick Liverpool apart on a near-weekly basis.

[ PL PREVIEW: Battle of the new bosses; Brighton vs. Southampton ]

Theory: it’s actually Liverpool’s midfield which is most responsible for this season’s repeated disasters at the back. The results are as poor as they’ve ever been under Klopp — they had the worst defensive record of the PL’s “big six” sides during Klopp’s first (partial) season at Anfield, followed by the second-worst of the six last season, and are sixth out of six thus far in 2017-18 — with little reason to expect significant change as the defensive characters remain the same. When called upon in 2016-17, again, it was simply more of the same.

The key difference being: they were better protected, thus forced into action less frequently, in the past. Whether by design or happenstance, the midfield and forward lines aren’t disrupting possession and winning the ball back as consistently as previous iterations of Klopp’s old gegenpress system. Most notably, it’s the early moments (first five seconds, or three passes) of opposition possession which haven’t been challenged with that familiar urgency.

[ MORE: England top Spain, win U-17 World Cup ]

Take, for instance, that loss to Tottenham — while Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Emre Can are probably the three most “defensive” midfield options in Klopp’s squad, they’re also the three least mobile and press-suited. Georginio Wijnaldum is often labeled an “attacking” midfielder, that what makes him perfectly suited for the transition from pressing to attacking. The same goes for Adam Lallana, who’s currently injured and gutting this side through his absence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, should he ultimately end up in central midfield, is very similar in that regard. Marko Grujic, while still a relative PL unknown, profiles better as a central midfielder than the three who started at Wembley Stadium.

Without that constant on-ball pressure, Mauricio Pochettino was inspired in his tactical tweak to feature Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in a pass-heavy midfield-three, as the three on-ball technicians were able to play through the middle third of the field with very little resistance and get at the likes of Lovren, Matip and Gomez more directly. The return of starting right back Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring), who hasn’t played a minute this season, will undoubtedly add a bit more mobility and athleticism to an otherwise plodding rearguard.

It’s a trend that, should it continue, will result in more and more — and easier and easier — goals conceded by the Reds.

PL wrap: Pep’s City sets new standard; Man Utd tops Spurs (video)

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Only one of the Top Six failed to claim maximum points on Saturday, with Tottenham losing its battle for second place with Manchester United.

[ WATCH: Full PL match replays ]

That 1-0 decision, won by Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku, kicked off the 7-match Premier League slate, with three more to come by the time Newcastle and Burnley square off Monday.

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Manchester City  — RECAP

Don’t let the score line fool you: Man City had this one in the bag for all but a minute, that moment coming when Jay Rodriguez took advantage of a lax Ederson move. Matty Phillips also scored for West Brom, but Fernandinho had a goal and an assist while Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling scored to keep Man City five points clear of the pack.

And it’s also a bit of history for City:

Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham HotspurRECAP

Anthony Martial’s second half goal was the difference as Manchester United missed Paul Pogba nearly as much as Tottenham missed Harry Kane. Here’s hoping both are back come Jan. 31 at Wembley Stadium.

 

Watford 0-1 Stoke City  — RECAP

It’s a badly needed win for Darren Fletcher and Stoke, who scored off a well-designed corner kick that recalled a Paul Scholes goal or two.

Bournemouth 0-1 Chelsea  — RECAP

Eden Hazard beat old teammate Asmir Begovic hard and to the near post to keep the Blues in the Top Four.

Crystal Palace 2-2 West Ham UnitedRECAP

Slaven Bilic‘s Irons looked destined to cruise on goals from Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew, but Palace converted a penalty kick and then Wilfried Zaha took advantage of a mindless late move from Michail Antonio as the Eagles claimed their fourth point of the season.

Arsenal 2-1 Swansea City — RECAP

Arsenal is looking dangerous again, in control for most of the match despite allowing a Sam Clucas goal on Swansea’s lone first half touch inside the Gunners’ 18. Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Ramsey scored for the Gunners, who are fifth but level with fourth place Chelsea on points.

Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield Town  — RECAP

Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl stopped a Mohamed Salah penalty kick in the first half, but that only slowed the roll of Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds in a highly-publicized battle with his best man: ex-Mainz teammate David Wagner. Georginio Wijnaldum, Daniel Sturridge, and Roberto Firmino scoring for Liverpool.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 10 9 1 0 35 6 29 4-1-0 5-0-0 28
 Manchester United 10 7 2 1 23 4 19 5-0-0 2-2-1 23
 Tottenham Hotspur 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 2-2-1 4-0-1 20
 Chelsea 10 6 1 3 18 10 8 2-1-2 4-0-1 19
 Arsenal 10 6 1 3 19 13 6 5-0-0 1-1-3 19
 Liverpool 10 4 4 2 17 16 1 3-2-0 1-2-2 16
 Watford 10 4 3 3 15 18 -3 1-2-2 3-1-1 15
 Newcastle United 9 4 2 3 10 8 2 3-1-1 1-1-2 14
 Burnley 9 3 4 2 8 9 -1 1-2-1 2-2-1 13
 Southampton 9 3 3 3 8 9 -1 2-2-2 1-1-1 12
 Huddersfield Town 10 3 3 4 7 13 -6 2-2-1 1-1-3 12
 Brighton & Hove Albion 9 3 2 4 9 10 -1 2-1-1 1-1-3 11
 Stoke City 10 3 2 5 11 20 -9 2-1-2 1-1-3 11
 West Bromwich Albion 10 2 4 4 9 13 -4 1-3-1 1-1-3 10
 Leicester City 9 2 3 4 12 14 -2 1-1-2 1-2-2 9
 West Ham United 10 2 3 5 10 19 -9 2-0-2 0-3-3 9
 Swansea City 10 2 2 6 7 12 -5 1-0-4 1-2-2 8

 Everton 9 2 2 5 7 18 -11 2-0-3 0-2-2 8
 Bournemouth 10 2 1 7 6 14 -8 1-1-3 1-0-4 7
 Crystal Palace 10 1 1 8 4 21 -17 1-1-3 0-0-5 4

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Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield: Reds ease to victory

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  • Liverpool secure first win in four
  • Lossl saves PK
  • Sturridge, Firmino, Wijnaldum score goals

Liverpool beat Huddersfield 3-0 at Anfield on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp got the better of his best friend David Wagner in the opposition dugout.

After Jonas Lossl saved Mohamed Salah‘s first half penalty kick it looked like it would be another afternoon of frustration for Liverpool but in the second half they ease to victory with goals from Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum.

With the win Liverpool move up to sixth place and have 16 points, while Huddersfield remain on 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool were dealt a blow before the game had even kicked off with Dejan Lovren injured in the warm up and Ragnar Klavan coming in to replace him.

The Reds dominated possession in the first half with Daniel Sturridge going close at the back post but then Klopp’s men were handed a glorious chance to take the lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

A free kick into the box found saw Tommy Smith penalized for pulling Roberto Firmino’s shirt as referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot with no real protests from Liverpool’s players.

However, Salah’s penalty kick was saved well by Jonas Lossl and Jordan Henderson‘s follow up hit the post and went wide. Huddersfield were happy to go in level at the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Moments after the break Liverpool got the goal their pressure deserved as a long ball forward found its way to Sturridge and he kept his cool to slot home. 1-0 to Liverpool.

The home side settled down after the opening goal and soon doubled their lead.

Mathias Jorgensen somehow cleared for a corner just as Sturridge was about to tap home but from the resulting corner Firmino nodded home and then preceded to stumble around in a bizarre celebration. 2-0.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lossl then made a fine save as Salah turned his man and curled a shot towards the bottom corner but Huddersfield’s goalkeeper did extremely well to deny him.

Wijnaldum scored a beauty to finish things off as the Dutch midfielder danced free of Huddersfield’s defense and slammed home. 3-0. Job done.