Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Betting Recommendations: West Ham United vs LiverpooL

Here are some betting recommendations for the West Ham United vs. Liverpool match:

From: Bettingzone UK

It's a little hard to understand why the bookies are siding so strongly with Liverpool in this.

Just four places and seven points separate the pair (both have played the same number of games) and while it's West Ham who are trailing, they undoubtedly come into this in better form and with home advantage in their favour too.

The Hammers have collected three wins and been beaten just once in their last six - decent enough by anyone's standards and all the more so given a hugely tricky fixture list which included games against top two Manchester United and Arsenal and a trip to a Manchester City side who are unbeaten on home turf.

In contrast, Liverpool have drawn their last four in the Premier League and even made hard work of seeing off Havant and Waterlooville and Luton in the FA Cup.

So while all the off-field comments suggest the pressure is easing on boss Rafa Benitez, the bottom line is that results need to pick up - and quickly.

In their favour is an excellent record against the Hammers as they've won the last six league games but we'd still argue that they should be bigger than evens for this latest trip to Upton Park.

The Hammers have already beaten Manchester United at theBoleyn Ground this season and are getting better all the time as their injury list continues to shorten.

The home win is tempting at 3/1 but we'll give ourselves a bit of insurance and go for West Ham at 2/1 in the 'draw no bet' market.

Verdict: West Ham 2 Liverpool 1

From: Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport UK

Interesting. West Ham's home form is not great as they lack confidence at Upton Park. They are helped by the fact that their injured players are slowly coming back.

I don't know what to expect with Liverpool because no-one ever knows the team manager Rafael Benitez will pick. But he needs to start picking his strongest side as they need results.

Prediction: West Ham United 1 – 2 LiverpooL

From: Mathew Burt,

Liverpool should finally get their first win of the year and finally give Rafa Benitez something to smile about after a tough couple of weeks. If Gerrard and Torres can perform to their abilities, and show that the recent rest has benefited them, then the West Ham defence could be in for a tough time. Then again who would bet against a draw?

Final Score: West Ham 1 - 2 Liverpool

From: Chris,

West Ham vs. Liverpool 4.10 - 2.00

When West Ham drew their last match with Man City both D Ashton and M Etherington were missing. They will be available tomorrow but J Faubert is an injury doubt.

Liverpool have practically a fully fit squad with only D. Agger on their injury list.

Why they have been so lack lustre for weeks I cannot say. It seems like they constantly put themselves in trouble regardless which opponents they face.

Luton, Wigan even Havant became major obstacles for Liverpool. There is something about Benitez and low profile matches.

He is not happy playing these midweek fixtures but in Britain there are no easy wins and this should be obvious by now. Lots of character in the present West Ham side and they could earn a draw from this game.

The draw then (3.25).

Babel: Superstars Brought Me To Anfield

Liverpool star Ryan Babel has spoken of his admiration for Steven Gerrard And Fernando Torres, both of whom played a large part in bringing him to the Premier League in the summer.

Dutch international Ryan Babel admitted that the lure of playing with superstars like Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard at Anfield brought him to Merseyside from Ajax last summer.

The starlet revealed that he didn’t realise how “great” the Reds were until the club made a return to the business end of European competition, having rejected the chance to move there previously.

"Liverpool had expressed an interest two years ago, but at that time I didn't have a good feeling," Babel told Liverpool's official matchday programme.

"I didn't know anything about Liverpool and the club meant hardly anything to me, which was due to sheer ignorance on my part.

"This time it was different. Liverpool had reached the Champions League final twice and I was very much impressed by the performances that Steven Gerrard had put in.

"It would be wonderful to play in the same team with such a star, I thought.

"My agent also told me Liverpool had signed Fernando Torres and I got really interested. I want to win silverware. That's why I have joined this great club."

The jet-heeled 21-year-old respects gaffer Rafa Benitez’s much maligned squad rotation, but concedes that he would like to see more playing time in an ideal world.

Babel has scored seven goals in 31 appearances for the club. The fast paced Premiership action is, however, causing him some concern as Liverpool continue to toil in the league.

"I would obviously relish more playing time," he continued.

"I am ambitious and want to play. I am sometimes a bit disappointed not to play but I appreciate Benitez's ideas.

"He adopts a rotation policy, I knew that beforehand. He has his own special ideas. He announces his starting XI one hour before kick-off. He will never give a hint at training whether you start or not.

"But I don't think it is awkward for me not be on the pitch for the full 90 minutes.

"I can't physically cope with the terrific pace of the Premier League. I invariably face a tall task, even also against the so-called small teams.

"We play compact as a team and must be on the move constantly, closing down opponents all over the park. I must provide cover for the left-back but I never shirk my duties anymore and nobody will ever catch me napping."

Match Preview: West Ham United vs LiverpooL

West Ham host Liverpool in the Premier League on Wednesday hoping to increase the pressure on Rafa Benitez.

The Liverpool boss has endured a torrid season as the Reds - who were tipped to be major title contenders after heavy summer investment - have stuttered on the field, while uncertainty continues behind the scenes.

Reds owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks appear to be growing increasingly unwelcome on Merseyside amidst ongoing rumours that the Americans are keen to sell the club.

And West Ham will hope to make the most of the Reds' woes by collecting three points at Upton Park.

Hammers boss Alan Curbishley has spoken of his side's need to focus on a place in the top six this season and three points against Liverpool would certainly help this cause, while also severely denting their visitor's UEFA Champions League aspirations.

If Portsmouth slip up away to Manchester United, a victory for Curbishley would see his side quietly move to within one point of Pompey in ninth place.

And the Hammers will welcome back Dean Ashton and winger Matthew Etherington as they go in search of a rare victory against the Reds.

West Ham are on a run of 11 games without success against Liverpool, but Curbishley will hope star striker Ashton can produce a performance to mirror that of the 2006 FA Cup final when the forward terrorised the Reds backline in a narrow defeat in Cardiff.

Etherington will also return to the Hammers starting line-up after joining Ashton on the sidelines for the 1-1 draw with Manchester City, while former Red Craig Bellamy and Nolberto Solano have also regained match fitness.

However, summer signing Julien Faubert is set to miss out as the midfielder is struggling with a calf problem.

Benitez is expected to name a strong XI after watching his second string side flirt with the romance of the FA Cup and narrowly avoid a humiliating defeat to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday.

The Reds were twice forced to come from behind in a hard-fought 5-2 victory against their non-league opponents and Benitez, who has yet to see his side record a league win in 2008, will be demanding improvements.

Andrei Voronin, Daniel Agger and Alvaro Arbeloa are all absent through injury, but Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Jose Reina and Jamie Carragher should return as Liverpool seek a victory which could see them reclaim fourth spot - should Everton fail to beat Tottenham.

Kraft Hints At Reds Bid

American businessman Robert Kraft admits he has not ruled out a possible takeover of Liverpool.

Kraft owns American football side New England Patriots and Major League Soccer outfit New England Revolution.

And Kraft - who is founder, chairman and chief executive of the Kraft Group - was strongly linked with a bid to buy the Reds before the Merseyside club was taken over by fellow Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks for £470million in 2007.

However, Gillett and Hicks are rumoured to be unsettled on Merseyside following Liverpool's lacklustre form and a much publicised bust-up with manager Rafa Benitez regarding the club's January transfer policy.

Dubai International Capital are thought to remain interested in a bid to buy out Gillett and Hicks, after withdrawing from the race to own the Reds last year, and Kraft has now hinted that he could also consider a takeover at Anfield.

"We haven't ruled it out completely," Kraft told Sky Sports News.

"But I'm worried a little bit. I want to be able to win whatever we do. But there are no rules in terms of spending on players.

"We would never want to be in a business where we couldn't compete and right now some of the structure doesn't allow you to compete on a level playing field."

And Kraft admits he has met with David Moores, who was Liverpool chairman before selling his stake to Gillett and Hicks and is now a director at Anfield, in the past.

"I spent a lot of time with Mr. Moores and his group in Liverpool and we know something about building an opportunity," Kraft added.

"The fan base in Liverpool is a lot like the fan base of the Patriots when we bought them.

"They are dedicated fans if you give them a quality product and they know you are doing their best to win."

Fourth Spot Is Ours, Says Liverpool Coach

Not so long ago Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was insisting his side could still mount a challenge for the Premier League title.

How times have changed.

Now having gone four league games without a win, Benitez has reassessed his team's credentials and believes his side can outmuscle their rivals to claim fourth spot instead.

The battle looks set to be a four-way tussle with Merseyside rivals Everton, Aston Villa and Manchester City.

Liverpool can reclaim fourth spot from Everton's grasp tonight with victory at West Ham - if other results go their way - and Benitez feels his squad are best prepared to finish in the final Champions League spot.

"We still believe we are best placed to finish fourth," he said.

"We are not happy that it has become difficult. But we have one game in hand and we must get back to fourth and then try to catch the third-placed team.

"I think we are the best equipped to be fourth, at least. Martin O'Neill at Villa and Sven (Goran Eriksson) at City may say different and Everton too, but I have confidence in my team.

"We feel we can do it and we must start winning again, which will take us higher again.

"We have enough quality and the experience of playing at this level. That could be crucial because we have been here before."

Returning to winning ways is easiest said than done given that Liverpool have drawn their last four league outings.

And aside from a 2-1 league win at Derby on Boxing Day they have not won on the road since a 3-0 success at Newcastle in November.

"The key is to focus on every game and not think about the rest. West Ham will be tough opposition, they have beaten Manchester United and have improved," Benitez said.

"Obviously away games are always more difficult, but we must win this one and beat Sunderland on Saturday ahead of going to Chelsea the following week.

"It is difficult to explain why we have not been getting the results, but we have been creating the chances. We just need to be more precise in our finishing and things will be okay."

New LiverpooL FC Shirts & Kits

The following have not yet been confirmed by Liverpool or adidas and as such may still be early prototypes.

The new LFC Home Shirt 2008/10

The new LFC Away Shirt 2008/09

The new LFC 3rd Shirt 2008/09