Hammers’ “serious crush” on Diogo Jota & aim to “exploit” Liverpool – View from West Ham – Liverpool FC

West Ham are flourishing again this season and one key tactic could disrupt Liverpool in Saturday’s crucial Premier League clash at Anfield.

The Reds continued their winning streak on Wednesday to make it 11 in a row – that includes the penalty shootout over Chelsea – overcoming Norwich in the FA Cup fifth round.

Attention now returns to Premier League commitments, with the Hammers making the trip to Anfield this weekend.

It is another huge occasion in the title race and David Moyes’ side could be a tricky opponent, as they still battle for a top-four finish.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to West Ham fan James Jones (@ByJamesJones) to get the lowdown on the Hammers, the Reds and much more.

How do you assess West Ham’s season so far?

It’s been another superb season for West Ham so far.

At the beginning we saw a top-eight finish as a good enough target, alongside a decent cup run, so to be fifth with 11 league games to go and in the last-16 of the Europa League is pretty incredible.

It’s even more impressive when you consider how thin our squad is.

Do you still feel a top-four finish is possible?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 7, 2021: West Ham United's Michail Antonio (L) and Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium.  (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No, I don’t think we’ll do it.

The level of our performances since the turn of the year haven’t been as good as they were in the first half of the season, and most of the teams around us have two or more games in hand.

Our biggest issue has been dropping points at home to so-called lesser teams.

We have come unstuck in Stratford to the likes of Crystal Palace, Brentford, Brighton, Leeds and Newcastle, but then beaten Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea at home.

So it’s frustrating that those dropped points against sides we should really be beating could ultimately cost us a top-four place.

Who have been West Ham’s three best players this season?

2HFFAH4 London, UK.  16th Jan, 2022. Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United celebrates after scoring his first sides goal.  Premier League match, West Ham Utd v Leeds United at the London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Sunday 16th January 2022. This image may only be used for Editorial purposes.  Editorial use only, license required for commercial use.  No use in betting, games or a single club/league/player publications.  pic by Lewis Mitchell/Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live news Credit: Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live News

Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Kurt Zouma.

All three have been superb and certainly take us up a level in terms of quality.

Everyone knows how good rice is, but Bowen has reached a new level that has seen him earn deserved plaudits, while Zouma’s experience and quality has improved our defensive stability.

Which individuals have struggled?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 7, 2021: Liverpool's Divock Origi (L) and West Ham United's Saïd Benrahma during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium.  West Ham United won 3-2.  (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Said Benrahma started the season well but has tailed off in recent months, while Tomas Soucek has really struggled to continue the form he showed last season.

Soucek is arguably the biggest disappointment because when he doesn’t play well, which has been regularly this season, we lose a lot of the threat we had in 2020/21.

Looking ahead to the Saturday, how highly do you rate this Liverpool side?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 23, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates with team-mate Virgil van Dijk (R) after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield.  (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This Liverpool team is certainly up there with the best I’ve seen.

They have won a Premier League title and are now a more serious and consistent threat to winning more, as well as strong contenders to win the Champions League each year.

I don’t recall a Liverpool team with so many world-class players in several positions, while the depth of quality Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal is seriously impressive.

Apart from Salah, which Reds player would you most like to see at West Ham?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates with the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium.  Liverpool won 11-10 on penalties after a goal-less draw.  (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I was desperate for us to take Divock Origi off your hands in January because we’re desperate for a player like him to help Michail Antonio up front.

He’s a superb bench player and would seriously improve our attacking threat.

Other than that, I have developed a serious crush on Diogo Jota.

I just think he’s a brilliant little forward who some might say is underrated when you consider he’s playing in the shadows of Salah and Mane at times.

But he’s brilliant!

Where do you see the key battles taking place at Anfield?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's Andy Robertson (L) and Trent Alexander-Arnold after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium.  Liverpool won 11-10 on penalties after a goal-less draw.  (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s going to be tight. The last four games between us have been decided by a single goal.

We will no doubt try to exploit Liverpool’s high defensive line with balls over the top, counting on Bowen and Antonio to use their pace.

But I think the game will be won and lost out wide when it comes to Liverpool’s threat from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

If we can keep both quiet, which I know is almost impossible, then we’ll have a chance. If not, our central defenders are going to be very, very busy!

What’s your favourite, and worst, memory of matches against the Reds?

CARDIFF, WALES - SATURDAY, MAY 13th, 2006: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard scores the third goal against West Ham United during the FA Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium.  (Pic by Jason Roberts/Propaganda)

My favorite is probably the win earlier this season at London Stadium because it was completely unexpected.

My worst is the 2006 FA Cup final because, well, how could it not be?

It took me six months to watch that Steven Gerrard goal back and it still hurts my heart whenever I see it now. I don’t think I will ever feel such heartbreak and pain like that in my lifetime again.

But, it’s worth saying, Gerrard’s performance that day was worthy of lifting the trophy and you just can’t complain when a player like him does world-class things like that in a cup final.

Finally, what’s your prediction?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz during the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium.  Liverpool won 11-10 on penalties after a goal-less draw.  (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

‘I’ll go for Liverpool 1-1 West Ham’. Simple!

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