West Ham's Carroll and Antonio snuff out Liverpool revival

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Back to haunt: Andy Carroll.

Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio both scored for a second successive match as West Ham United leapfrogged Liverpool in the Premier League table by beating them 2-0 on Saturday.

The pair had scored in the 2-1 victory over Southampton that ended a run of eight games without a win and their efforts against Liverpool at Upton Park ensured that Slaven Bilic’s side started 2016 on a high.

While Bilic could draw satisfaction from his side’s display — and in particular the return of Dimitri Payet following a seven-game absence with an ankle injury — for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp there was only frustration that his team were unable to build on successive single-goal victories.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch

– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

Liverpool have now lost six league games this season — four since Klopp succeeded the sacked Brendan Rodgers in October. Klopp had warned that his players would have to show grit in order to emerge from this period with their top-four challenge intact, but their display suggested they were feeling the effects of the festive programme.

Liverpool were disjointed and unconvincing, offering only occasional threats, and while they had opportunities to get back into the game, they lacked the cutting edge to make more of the few chances that came their way.

Bilic’s side took the game to their opponents during the first half after surviving an early scare when Jordon Ibe sent a shot across the face of the home goal and narrowly beyond the far post.

That simply served to spark West Ham into life and the pace of Enner Valencia and Antonio immediately began to cause problems for Liverpool before the pair combined to give the home side a 10th-minute lead.

Valencia was given too much space on the right, allowing the West Ham forward to deliver a deep cross to the far post, where Antonio leapt above Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne to head past Simon Mignolet.

Carroll might have doubled the lead moments later when he out-jumped Mamadou Sakho to meet Aaron Cresswell’s left-wing cross, before Manuel Lanzini’s explosive long-range shot struck Mignolet’s left-hand post. Liverpool’s response was unconvincing, with Christian Benteke — scorer of the winning goal in Liverpool’s last two games — unable to exploit an opportunity after a slip by West Ham centre-back James Collins.

The momentum of the game briefly shifted after a lengthy delay while Lanzini received treatment before hobbling off in the 39th minute with what looked to be a recurrence of the thigh injury that recently sidelined the midfielder for a month.

Liverpool gained some impetus after the stoppage and finished the first half in a positive manner, with Emre Can shooting against the bar after good build-up play from Ibe and Roberto Firmino in first-half injury time.

Five minutes after the restart, Philippe Coutinho’s excellent pass set Alberto Moreno free on the left and his low cross found Benteke, only for the striker to side-foot wide.

That miss appeared even more costly when Carroll found the net against his former club five minutes later, rising above Clyne to direct a downward header from Mark Noble’s cross into the bottom-right corner.

It might have been worse for Liverpool had Mignolet not produced a superb double save to deny first Carroll and then Antonio’s follow-up.

Liverpool upped the pressure as the game wore on, but rarely looked like breaching a West Ham defence well marshalled by Collins.

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Keys and Gray: EPL predictions - Week 19

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In need of solutions: Steve McClaren.

Saturday’s Premier League fixtures see top of the table Arsenal take on a Newcastle side woefully bereft of confidence in one of the game’s big fixtures with both sides in need of points to take momentum into what could be a massive calendar year for each.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front beIn Sports’ EPL coverage discuss this and the weekend’s other matches.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch
– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

Arsenal v Newcastle

AG: Arsenal can give themselves the perfect start to the year today by beating a mediocre Newcastle 3-0.

RK: If Arsenal want four or five goals they can get them but they probably won’t get that many so I’ll go with Andy on this. 3-0.

Leicester v Bournemouth

AG: The next few weeks will tell us how good Leicester really are and although Bournemough have had some great results I can’t see them getting anything here. 1-0.

RK: I have been really impressed with what Bournemouth have achieved of late with three wins and a draw but I think Leicester will be too good for them. 2-0.

Watford v Manchester City

AG: This is a classic game when City have to step it up if they want to win the title and I expect them to do exactly that. 1-2.

RK: City haven’t won on the road since September and we talk about them being title contenders; it’s ridiculous. They should win this but Watford won’t be intimidated. 1-1.

West Ham v Liverpool

AG: Although Liverpool won 1-0 at Sunderland I wasn’t convinced by their performance. They got the job done but that was it. West Ham did well to beat Southampton last time out so I can see this ending 1-1.

RK: Andy Carroll, if he gets the chance, would like to score against his old team but neither of these sides impress me at the moment. Yes, 1-1.

Man United v Swansea

AG: Because United have got to win sometime soon at home I have to go, without total conviction, for them to win. 2-0.

RK: If United fans are happy with 0-0 draws now then it is a sad state of affairs and I did not see the vibrant team people were raving about against Chelsea. Alan Curtis is doing a good job as Swansea but they won’t win at Old Trafford. 1-0.

Norwich v Southampton

AG: Every time I watch Southampton I see a good team playing decent football but letting games slip away like they did at West Ham when it should have been done and dusted by half time. However, I think they will respond by beating a struggling Norwich side, 1-2.

RK: Norwich are staring relegation in the face. In a straight fight I don’t think they are good enough to beat the Saints. 1-2.

Everton v Tottenham

AG: Everton are good going forward but a bit soft at the back and are conceding too many goals. Tottenham will fancy this but I think Everton will get something. 2-2.

RK: Everton’s record is not very good at the moment with three wins in 12. They are playing well but not winning, and Spurs are. 1-2.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea

AG: To have Palace sitting in fifth place is a credit to Alan Pardew who has done a terrific job. They have new investment and with money to spend Palace could be really strong in the future. I remember playing against Terry Venables’ Palace in the 1980s and this lot are up there with that team. 1-1.

RK: Palace were poor against Swansea but I don’t think Chelsea are good enough yet to go to Selhurst Park and win. Again, I have to agree with Andy. 1-1.

Sunderland v Aston Villa

AG: There’s not much to choose between these two teams, but Sunderland are struggling for form at the moment and Villa should edge this. 0-1.

RK: Sunderland were woeful against Liverpool. They are in deep trouble and will have to buy in the January transfer window. Villa are desperate for a win and they will get it. 0-2.

West Brom v Stoke

AG: Stoke beat Manchester United and then Everton so you would think they would go to West Brom and win but football’s not like that. 2-1.

RK: Stoke have been playing brilliantly recently with their front four playing really well. They are full of confidence and although the Baggies are a dogged team they should win this. 1-2.

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Jurgen Klopp calls on Liverpool side to maintain positive attitude

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Passionate: Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp wants to see more of the attitude shown by his players during the past two games. The Reds’ 1-0 victories over Leicester and Sunderland were not pretty but stopped the rot after three Premier League games without a win. 

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch
– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

Klopp has had standout results in his short tenure in charge such as the 4-1 victory at Manchester City and 3-1 success against Chelsea, but there have also been losses to Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Watford. The goals against Leicester and Sunderland were scored by Christian Benteke – a feat Klopp welcomed by challenging the striker to play better.

The German said: “He made again the decisive goal in the game, and that’s the best thing a striker can do. When I said he can play better, that’s for everybody, they all can play better.

“First of all you have to fight for the result and that’s the biggest change in the last two games from the other games. Until then, we won our really good games, but when we were average then we lost.

“That’s not how it should be if you want consistently to get results. We took these very important points in a difficult game (against Sunderland). That’s very important. We defended well, we had our opportunities and Christian was there again.”

Liverpool travel to West Ham today and boss Slaven Bilic is weighing up whether to throw Dimitri Payet straight in against the Reds despite the midfielder being a month ahead of schedule in his fitness battle.

Bilic said: “Is he in contention to start? Yes. He is back, he’s been training with us for a couple of days and depending on how he does today I’m expecting him to be in the squad and available for the game. We will see how much he is going to participate in the game.”

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