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After an incredible weekend of Premier League football the action comes thick and fast in midweek with two televised FA Cup fourth round replays to be decided. West Ham and Liverpool do battle for the fourth time this season after playing out a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday 30th January. Meanwhile, League One Peterborough will look to complete a giant-killing over Premier League West Brom, after holding the Baggies to a 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns at the first attempt.
The Hammers have beaten Liverpool twice this term and the Reds showed their vulnerability at the back once again in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland over the weekend. Jurgen Klopp has plenty to look forward to with a Capital One Cup final against Manchester City and a Europa League campaign on the horizon, but the ever illusive top four finish is proving hard to find. This FA Cup tie is yet another game in a burgeoning fixture list, but for the Hammers it represents their most realistic chance of glory this season.
West Brom are looking over their shoulders again after a poor run of league results has left them just six points above the bottom three. Peterborough are looking upwards as they try to make the League One play-offs, but they still have work to do to make up a three-point gap. They twice came from behind at the Hawthorns to snatch a 2-2 draw in the previous encounter, and this tie is more evenly balanced than the odds might suggest.
Both home teams could be worth following at very respectable prices.
West Ham v Liverpool
Liverpool looked home and hosed on Saturday afternoon when their fans staged a 77th minute walk out in protest over the price of match day tickets, and that coincided with a collapse on the pitch. Simon Mignolet was at fault again after letting an Adam Johnson free kick squirm under his body, and Jermaine Defoe added a quickfire second to secure Sunderland an unlikely draw. Despite their free-flowing attacking football, Liverpool have shown a considerably weak underbelly, and they’ve not managed to win in the last four games. Jurgen Klopp brought a great deal of excitement with him when he rode into Anfield, but English football is unforgiving and he has his work cut out to develop a team from the lopsided squad at Liverpool.
Slaven Bilic has made a big impact at West Ham, and despite a defeat away at Southampton over the weekend, his side is poised in 6th place in the Premier League with 39 points. That guarantees their top flight status for another year, and the rest of the season is about finishing as high as possible and having a serious crack at this cup competition. The 0-0 draw when these sides met a week and a half ago was a tepid affair, with neither team really doing enough to win. Liverpool rested several players, and West Ham missed the leadership of Mark Noble, but would have been the happier of the sides to set up this rematch. The Hammers beat Liverpool 2-0 here on the 2nd of January, with goals from Antonio and Carroll, and the big Geordie striker could be in line for a start against his former club. They’ve also put together an eleven-game unbeaten run at home, and are not to be taken lightly under the lights at the Boleyn ground.
It will be interesting to see how Klopp approaches this game as the Reds have a Premier League game at Aston Villa, a potential cup tie against Blackburn (if they win here), and a double-header against Augsburg in the Europa League to follow, before playing the Capital One Cup final against Man City on February 28th. It’s a much easier run for West Ham as they face Norwich at the weekend before a week’s break to the next round of this competition – against Blackburn – if they get through.
Peterborough v West Brom
The Baggies were ahead twice in the previous encounter and should have seen the game out as Berahino’s second goal gave them an 84th minute 2-1 lead, but they were pegged back by Jon Taylor’s equalizer just moments later. Posh will fancy their chances of causing an upset, particularly if Tony Pulis opts to rest some of his first-teamers to keep them fresh for the Premier League. After looking ‘safe’ a few weeks ago, a series of five without a win has left them just six points clear of the bottom three, and they have a run of fixtures which sees them face Leicester, Arsenal, Man Utd, and Everton in the next five. That might be enough to cause Pulis to think about this game in terms of priorities.
For Peterborough, success will ultimately fall on whether they get promoted back to the Championship this season, but the result at West Brom can’t have done any harm to their confidence as they dug in for a 1-0 win at Chesterfield over the weekend. They’ve got plenty to do to force their way into the top six, and a cup run can do wonders to galvanize a team in the back end of the season. Home form is a plus as Posh have won 6 of the last 9 at home, and have only ended on the losing side once – against Burton Albion.
West Brom have struggled on the road lately, winning just two in ten, and one of those was the slender 1-0 victory over Bristol City in the last round, which the Baggies made extremely hard work of. Goals have been a real problem, in fact they’ve failed to score in 4 of their last 5 matches, and they could be vulnerable here against a usually free-scoring Peterborough.
West Ham to beat Liverpool
Tuesday 9th February, 19:45 GMT
Peterborough to beat West Brom
Wednesday 10th February, 19:45
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