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Weblog: The football punter

West Ham and Liverpool to serve up early goals

BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday

Liverpool's away form in the Premier League has been a cause of great concern but that has not stopped the ropey Reds from being rated odds-on favourites for their trip to West Ham.

Following Jurgen Klopp's men has been an expensive business in away matches as they have dropped points at Watford, Manchester City, Newcastle and Tottenham with a sole success at Leicester.

However, with the London Stadium hosts missing several defenders this should be an ideal chance for them to get back on the winning road, although backing an early goal could be best as that will also allow for any characteristic errors from Liverpool's back four.

Liverpool play to attack everywhere they go and when it works it can be spectacular as they showed in last month's 7-0 Champions League victory at Maribor when Jurgen Klopp's men were 3-0 up inside 20 minutes.

Five days later they were 2-0 down after 12 minutes against Tottenham at Wembley and Liverpool seem to attract wild games.

The first goal has arrived before 25 minutes in four of their five Premier League away games and Liverpool have not yet managed to get to the half-hour mark at 0-0.

For all their attacking brilliance - and on that score Mohamed Salah has proved to be one of the signings of the season - they continue to be let down by defensive ricks with 15 goals conceded in five away matches.

That's the worst record in the Premier League and it's an area West Ham will look to exploit.

Andre Ayew and Javier Hernandez scored in last week's 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace, but defensively the Hammers are even worse than Liverpool.

Slaven Bilic stands accused of not organising his team properly, which is probably fair, though injuries are not helping and there is a vacuum in midfield where the Hammers often lose the battle.

Brighton, the last visitors to Stratford, hit the front after ten minutes and never looked back in a 3-0 success in a result that many thought would cost Bilic his job.

However, he remained to oversee a dramatic 3-2 cup win at Spurs before the draw at Palace which saw Jose Fonte pick up an injury and Pablo Zabaleta a suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

There is no natural right-back available with Zabaleta and Sam Byram ruled out and holes in midfield which should be enough for Liverpool to take maximum points. But as it's Liverpool don't expect it to be easy.

Recommendation
Time of first goal before 26:00

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Match in Focus

19:45 TODAY BT2

Basel v Man Utd

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Man Utd have lost one of their last 16 European encounters
Expert verdict
A point will secure top spot for Manchester United in Group A and Jose Mourinho should be able to set his team up to successfully take a point from their trip to Switzerland. United have conceded only one goal in their four group-stage matches and Basel could struggle to penetrate a well-drilled Red Devils defence.