Liverpool must breach one of the Premier League’s sternest defences in order to maintain their title charge at West Ham.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, who sit top of the Premier League, are in line for their first title since 1990, and head into the final six games of the season knowing a haul of 18 points will be enough to fend off the challenges of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Liverpool’s attacking potency is the primary reason for their unexpected title bid, with the Anfield outfit on course to break Chelsea’s record of goals in a Premier League season – 103 – which was set in 2010.
They have racked up 88 in their 32 top-flight games so far, with lethal strike duo Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge – the division’s top two scorers – accounting for 49 of those.
A run of eight consecutive wins, with 30 goals scored in the process, has seen Liverpool surge to the summit of the league – and Rodgers has called on his players to focus solely on themselves as the campaign draws to a close.
“We can’t afford to worry about other teams, it would be wasting energy to worry about them,” the Liverpool manager told reporters.
“It is now about concentrating on performance. The way we are playing gives us great confidence.”
Four of Liverpool’s 88 Premier League goals came in their 4-1 hammering of West Ham at Anfield in December and they scored three on their last visit to Upton Park.
However, Sam Allardyce’s team have often proved a tough nut to crack this season, with only Chelsea able to better their total of 13 clean sheets – although they have failed to shut out their opponents since a 2-0 win over Norwich City on February 11.
West Ham have won six of their last nine top-flight matches, including their last two, meaning they sit 11 points clear of the bottom three and all but safe from relegation with six games to spare.
Andy Carroll, who moved to Upton Park from Liverpool for a club-record fee last June, opened the scoring in West Ham’s 2-1 win at Sunderland last Monday, and Allardyce believes the striker – along with fellow ex-Anfield man Stewart Downing – will be eager to prove a point this weekend.
“Those two lads in particularly will want to show how good they are on Sunday. Let’s hope they play very, very well on Sunday, because we need them to,” he said.
Allardyce looks set to be without George McCartney (hamstring), while James Collins (calf) and Marco Borriello (hamstring) are doubtful.
Rodgers, meanwhile, has a full complement of players to choose from, with the exception of long-term absentee Jose Enrique (knee).