- Payet returns from injury
- West Ham unbeaten in six
- Liverpool sit one point above WHU
Liverpool currently sit seventh on the table and West Ham eighth, with just one point separating the sides as we officially kick off the second half of the Premier League season.
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Dimiti Payet has not played since early November after suffering an ankle injury, but Hammers’ boss Slaven Bilic has confirmed that his star player will be back in the side on Saturday. The French playmaker had five goals and three assists in 12 matches before getting injured, and was arguably in the best form in the Premier League. Since Payet went down, West Ham have taken just one win from seven matches. However, six of those matches ended in draws as the Hammers have been able to earn some points and stay in the top half of the table.
Liverpool is coming off of short rest, having beaten Sunderland on Wednesday in the final Premier League game of 2015. The Reds will be looking to avenge a 3-0 loss to West Ham earlier this season, although that match was under Brendan Rodgers. New manager Jurgen Klopp said there is a possibility Daniel Sturridge could play, although he will likely be very cautious as the striker has been unable to stay healthy this season. A win for Liverpool could see the Reds jump to fifth on the table, which would be their highest position since August.
What they’re saying
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic on facing Liverpool: “Well, they are Liverpool, they’re a huge team. They’ve won their last two games and kept clean sheets so they’ll be confident. They’ve shown some really good performances, but they are also vulnerable. We are expecting a very tough game, they are full of energy, a way that they like to play. It’ll be a very tough game for us.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on the busy schedule: “I’m the first to force the players [to work] or to help them not getting fatigue in the periods between the games because first of all you get tired in the mind then the body starts thinking the same. It’s intensive, we cannot ignore this. It’s the most intensive time in the year after an intensive time, so we are not on holiday for sure.”
There is no understating how important Dimitri Payet is to this West Ham side. The bubbles will be blowing at the Boleyn Ground on his return, and I think the Hammers could take the season sweep over Liverpool. With the unpredictability of the Premier League this season, there’s no reason West Ham can’t take all three points. West Ham United 2-1 Liverpool.