Arnautovic set for Irons start

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has dropped a major hint that forward Marko Arnautovic will start the Premier League game against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Austria international, who has scored seven Premier League goals so far this season, has not begun a game for the Hammers since the 3-0 defeat at Wolves at the end of January.

However, Pellegrini is preparing to recall Arnautovic for the visit of the rock-bottom Terriers to the London Stadium, with the hosts looking to consolidate their position in the top half of the Premier League standings.

He told reporters at his pre-match briefing: "Marko was out of the team for several reasons, first because his mind was out when he had the option to go to China.

"After that he returned and he didn't work for about a week, so he needed some time to recover his performance.

"After that he was sick and was going to start against Manchester City, but he felt bad on the day.

"They are the reasons why he's started on the bench, but he's ready to return to his (starting) position."

Earlier this season the Irons earned a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield at the John Smith's Stadium, with Felipe Anderson cancelling out an early opener for the hosts from Alex Pritchard.

West Ham are available at 8/15 to win the game on Saturday, with Arnautovic priced at 13/10 to score at any time in the match.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini's side are 4/5 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table come the end of the season.

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Pellegrini welcomes tough choice

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is pleased to have a number of attacking options to choose from as he aims to help his side finish the season on a positive note.

The Hammers have lost just one of their last five Premier League games and that was a narrow 1-0 reverse at reigning champions Manchester City.

And Pellegrini had been pleased with the form shown by Javier Hernandez, while he is delighted to have Marko Arnautovic fully recovered from injury and challenging for a starting spot.

Ahead of a Saturday trip to take on Cardiff City, the Chilean told reporters: "Javier is in a good moment – his commitment with the team, he is making good movements in attack.

"Maybe, as with all other strikers, they want to score more goals, but he is involved in the play that allows us to score.

"We also have now coming back Marko Arnautovic, so I think we also have an option also not only in the starting eleven, but we have important options on the bench also.

"I always say for a manager it is more difficult when you don't have players (to choose from). Having good options for me is a solution, not a problem."

Arnautovic and Hernandez both started when the Bluebirds were beaten 3-1 at the London Stadium earlier this season.

The Irons can be backed at 21/20 to claim all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium this weekend, with the draw priced at 23/10, while Arnautovic is available at 8/5 to score at any time in the game.

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Pellegrini won’t write off Wilshere

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini remains hopeful that Jack Wilshere will be able to return to action before the end of the season.

Pellegrini signed Wilshere last summer but the former Arsenal midfielder has started just four Premier League games for the Hammers this season because of two ankle injuries.

The 27-year-old has not played since December and recent reports have indicated that he has suffered several setbacks in his recovery and will sit out the remainder of the campaign.

He has not yet been able to return to training but Pellegrini remains upbeat and hopes the England international will be back to full-fitness before the season ends in May.

"We must wait for Jack when he comes back and how he feels," said the former Manchester City and Malaga boss. "Those [reports] are all rumours we cannot confirm 100 per cent.

"Will he feature again this season? Just resting a couple of months will not be easy for him to recover his best shape as a player but the important thing for me is that he must feel that he is OK, has no pain in his ankle. After that, we will see what happens with him."

Meanwhile, Pellegrini has Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell available again for this weekend's trip to Newcastle United after they missed the midweek defeat to Manchester City.

However, Fabian Balbuena will once again miss out although he is expected to be available for the game against Cardiff City later this month.

West Ham, 8/13 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season, are 23/20 to beat Newcastle on Saturday and 8/1 to win the match from behind.

Cresswell welcomes Lanzini return

West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell has called the return of playmaker Manuel Lanzini following a serious knee injury like a new signing for the Hammers.

Twenty-six-year-old Argentina international Lanzini made his first appearance of the season in the 3-1 Premier League win over Fulham last Friday, coming on for the final 14 minutes of the game at the London Stadium.

And Cresswell was delighted to see his colleague back on the pitch, telling the club's official website: "He's obviously been out for a long time and for us it's like a new signing coming in for us now. Everyone knows his quality and it's great that he's back.

"He had a couple of chances to score, but it wasn't to be. But I'm sure he'll only get better between now and the end of the season."

Meanwhile, ahead of a Wednesday evening trip to the Etihad Stadium to take on Carabao Cup winners Manchester City, Irons head coach Manuel Pellegrini spoke of his plans to tread carefully with his use of Lanzini.

He added: "We must be careful with Manu. He did very well in his 15 minutes and the important thing was that he was not afraid and remembering his knee.

"We will see what the best way is to get minutes in every game, but you must be careful when you give more minutes."

West Ham have lost their last six games against the Citizens in all competitions, shipping no fewer than 22 goals in the process.

City are 1/6 to win the game on Wednesday and are 7/1 to claim a 3-0 victory, with the visitors 8/1 to secure a draw in Manchester.

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Ranieri retains survival belief

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri says he is still confident that the squad has enough quality to survive in the Premier League.

The table makes for grim reading for Cottagers fans with the team second bottom, eight points off safety.

Having had just four wins all season, they have to get several more to have any chance of survival, starting with Friday night's trip to West Ham in a London derby.

Having had a week off due to the FA Cup, Fulham have used the break to give the squad some time off and Ranieri hopes the players are refreshed and ready for the final 12 games of the season.

He said at a press conference ahead of the trip to the London Stadium: "After (the) Manchester United match, I gave (the players) two days off to recharge the batteries and then we start our normal fitness and tactical work and we are ready.

"We know it's a difficult moment for us but we must be positive and do everything we can do to change our table.

"Every time in training session there is a very good atmosphere and this gives me a lot of confidence. The squad is alive, they want to do something more every match."

Fulham are 10/3 to get a much-needed three points on Friday with the Hammers 17/20 and the draw 3/1.

Alfie Mawson remains an absentee from Ranieri's squad while Manuel Pellegrini could welcome both Manuel Lanzini and Fabian Balbuena back from injury.

Thye Hammers, after a poor start to the current campaign, have improved considerably since and are in the top half of the Premier League table, 10th with 33 points.

Fulham follow the West Ham game with a trip to Southampton on Wednesday evening and then begin March with a home game with Chelsea and an away fixture at Leicester.

Fulham are 6/1 to stave off relegation and survive in the Premier League while the Hammers are 4/5 to finish in the top half of the table.

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Lanzini close to Hammers return

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is looking forward to being able to select a fit-again Manuel Lanzini, perhaps as soon as for the clash with Fulham on Friday evening.

The 26-year-old forward has not featured at all for the Hammers so far this season, having sustained a torn ACL in his right knee during a pre-World Cup training camp with Argentina.

However, he is close to being ready to make his return, as is Samir Nasri, who has been struggling with a calf problem for the past month.

And Pellegrini s weighing up the possibility of using both players in the Premier League derby meeting with the Cottagers at the London Stadium on Friday evening.

Pellegrini told his club's official website: "For this game, we have the squad which was playing most of the games and maybe Lanzini and Nasri can (also) be included.

"Manu is coming back from a long injury, so we are going to decide the best way for him to return to the team, starting from the beginning or coming on after some minutes.

"He is a player who gives you different things. He is very technical player, he is a fast player.

"If you review the last part of the last season, Marko Arnautovic had a good performance, but most of the goals also involved Manu making good assists and good plays."

The Irons are 5/6 to defeat Fulham on Friday evening and are 8/1 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline, with the hosts 7/4 to keep a clean sheet.

The meeting of the two sides at Craven Cottage earlier in the season finished 2-0 to the Hammers, with Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio their goalscorers.

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Irons welcome back Arnautovic

West Ham will have star forward Marko Arnautovic available for selection for the derby clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Austria international was forced to sit out the 1-1 Premier League draw with Liverpool on Monday evening due to a bruised foot sustained in the 3-0 reverse at Wolves six days earlier.

However, Hammers head coach Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that Arnautovic has trained without ant issues through the week and will be in contention to feature against the Eagles.

He told reporters: "Marko worked the complete week. It is good news, of course. He is a player who makes a difference and important for our team.

"He needs to recover his best form after not playing and his last injury – I hope he will be an important player for the remainder of the season."

Arnautovic, who was heavily linked with a move to China during the January transfer window, has scored seven league goals for the Irons so far this season, including two in a 2-2 draw at home to Brighton just over a month ago.

He is available at 21/10 to score at any time against Palace on Saturday, with the Hammers having won 3-2 when the two sides met at the London Stadium in early December.

Felipe Anderson got on the scoresheet in that game and the Brazilian is 3/1 to find the net at any time on Saturday.

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Pellegrini enjoys Hammers display

Manuel Pellegrini has called on his West Ham side to continue to perform like they did in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool between now and the end of the season.

The Hammers earned a share of the spoils at the London Stadium thanks to a Michail Antonio goal, with Pellegrini feeling that his team had carved out enough opportunities to have secured a victory over the Premier League leaders.

The Chilean told his club's official website: "I was pleased with the performance because I thought we played a very good game, but I'm disappointed with the result because they scored a goal which was clearly offside.

"We missed three or four chances, especially in the first 35 minutes, which could have finished the game. We missed those opportunities, so we had a draw in a game which we could have won.

"But I think the team we saw tonight is the team we must see from now until the end of the season."

The draw with the Reds capped off a run of three consecutive defeats for the Irons, who lost back-to-back league games against Bournemouth and Wolves, while in between they crashed out of the FA Cup by losing 4-2 at League One AFC Wimbledon.

The Hammers are now priced at 10/11 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season, while they are 10/11 to end up in the bottom half.

Their next assignment is a London derby against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

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Pellegrini: Reds have the edge

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini believes Liverpool's FA Cup exit has given them the advantage in the Premier League title race.

The Reds were beaten in the third round of this season's competition by Wolves and have only the Champions League and Premier League to focus on in the last three months of the campaign.

Liverpool will move five points clear of second-placed Manchester City if they can beat the Hammers on Monday – they are 4/11 to do so – with 13 matches of the campaign remaining.

Pep Guardiola's side face Chelsea in the League Cup final later this month while they are also still involved in the Champions League and FA Cup.

West Ham have been poor recently and are in the bottom half of the table after losing at Wolves and Bournemouth as well as being knocked out of the FA Cup by League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon.

Pellegrini said of Liverpool, who are 11/8 to win their first league title since 1990: "It's more easy for the team that is involved in just two competitions, compared to the team that is involved in four.

"City have to play the final of the Carabao (League) Cup which will suspend a game. If they make the semi-final of the FA Cup, they must suspend another game.

"They have midweek with the Champions League, so it's not easy to compete in all the competitions."

Premier League: No Warm Welcome for Liverpool in the East End

West Ham vs Liverpool

They are made of tough stuff in the East End of London; when Premier League leaders Liverpool come to town, they are sure to get a frosty reception.

Much of the UK has been covered in snow this week, and the London Stadium will be no place for the faint-hearted in the biting cold. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool need to stay cool, though, as the temperature in the title race is beginning to get rather warm.

The Premier League 2019 betting odds will stay with Liverpool as long as they keep winning; the leaders are available at 1.48 while Manchester City are at 2.70 here at us. But the Reds failed to take advantage of City’s midweek slip-up against Newcastle United. A draw with Leicester City left the Reds five points clear of the champions, and that’s a gap which keeps the Manchester crowd very interested.

Talking points

Will Marko make the match?

The big Premier League 2019 news is around the treatment table. Liverpool’s defensive injury list has been well-documented, but a blessing for the Reds and a curse for the Hammers seemingly emerged this week when Marko Arnautovic limped away from the ground on crutches, following a midweek defeat to Wolves.

The enigmatic Austrian has just signed a new contract at the London Stadium shortly after enthusiastically advertising his desire to leave the Hammers, so the faithful Iron fans don’t really know what to think. And news in today suggests that he may have made a miraculous recovery and make it to face Liverpool. If he doesn’t, then Manuel Pellegrini has the goals of Felipe Anderson to call on. The Brazilian is top scoring with eight, not a bad return since his £36m switch from Lazio. And he is proving to be a real handful for defences up and down the country.

Javier Hernandez could also feature if Arnautovic isn’t fit, and the Hammers have the capability to spring a surprise after beating Arsenal 1-0 thanks to young midfield star Declan Rice.

This will be no walk in the park for the visitors.

Liverpool want to avoid another sucker punch

There may be a few sweaty palms in Liverpool, certainly among fans yearning for a long-awaited league title, if not in the players. With a great chance to go seven points clear at the top of the league, Liverpool showed some signs of the pressure mounting in the title race, failing to beat Leicester after going ahead in the third minute. The Reds were on the attack when Leicester hit them with a counter-punch seconds before the half time whistle, and they never really recovered.

Can West Ham upset the Premier League odds as they face top of the table Liverpool?

Manuel Pellegrini preparing himself as they face Premier League leaders Liverpool

West Ham are likely to concede much of the ball and try to hit Liverpool on the break, and they could easily give the league leaders a nasty shock with the pace and trickery of Anderson in their ranks. Goalkeeper Alisson looked decidedly shaky on Wednesday after conceding three in the previous game to Crystal Palace.

Jurgen Klopp’s side must be patient and not over-commit. With Mo Salah and Sadio Mane leading their attack, they have the ability to score in a split second.

History

Recent results don’t tell the whole story of this fixture. Sure thing, West Ham lost three matches in a row, but they were all away from home. And in the two games before that, they had back-to-back wins at the London Stadium. Their passionate fans will roar them on at the first sign of weakness in an opponent.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s away league record this season reads nine wins, two draws and a solitary defeat. But the Reds have lost two of the last three away in all competitions, including a FA Cup defeat to Wolves.

The head-to-heads are well in the favourites’ favour as Liverpool won 28, drawn ten and lost ten of these meetings since 1993; the Hammers have failed to beat Liverpool on any of the last four occasions.

Betting tip

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West Ham vs Liverpool West Ham Asian Handicap +1.50 @ 1.86
February 5, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Make no mistake: this is another big test of Liverpool’s title credentials. West Ham are a wounded animal after three defeats and a tongue-lashing from their boss. Coach Pellegrini laid into his players after the dreadful 3-0 defeat to Wolves in midweek, three days after saying he was ashamed of their performance in the FA Cup against lower-league opponents Wimbledon.

Liverpool are at 2.07 to win by two goals or more, something they have failed to do in the last five games. I think they will find it very hard to break down a Hammers team determined to show their manager and fans just what they are capable of. And the Eastenders love to play the underdog with a nasty bite.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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