Antonio absent, but Moyes fancies his chances

LONDON • With Liverpool facing an injury crisis at the back - Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho are on the sidelines, while Joel Matip is a serious doubt - manager Jurgen Klopp will be relieved that Michail Antonio will not be spearheading West Ham's attack.

The Hammers travel to Anfield today, but are without their joint-top scorer for the Premier League clash, manager David Moyes confirmed.

At his virtual pre-match press conference yesterday, the Scot said Antonio, who has three league goals this season and is his first-choice forward, will not be risked after aggravating an injury against Manchester City last weekend.

Moyes added: "Michail has been great for us and has played really well. We don't think it's too bad but it's enough to keep him out of tomorrow's game."

Having trounced Leicester and Wolves, and gained credible draws at Tottenham and City, unfancied West Ham are in form. Even without Antonio, Moyes is fancying his chances of another surprise result.

The Scot said: "Obviously, you'd rather play Liverpool without Virgil van Dijk, but maybe they're looking at it in the same way with us and Michail.

"Going up there with no crowd behind them hopefully might make a difference too.

"I don't think we've exceeded expectations. I always put the team out to get results, but I was really pleased with the points we took against Spurs and City. It showed the direction we're taking.

"Playing the champions will always be a tough game. We have to try to make the most of it and I think we're in a good place. The players have got confidence and I hope we can go and show it."

Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Kostas Tsimikas and Matip - all of whom have missed the Reds' past three games - were not seen in training on Thursday, putting their availability into question.

Klopp has already hinted he will not rush back his injured players ahead of schedule, suggesting academy graduate Rhys Williams is in line for his Premier League debut today alongside Joe Gomez, the club's only fit senior centre-back at the moment.

With the rangy French striker Sebastien Haller likely to come in for Antonio, it may suit the hosts as the visitors are set to play a direct game.

At 1.96m, Williams, who last season was on loan at non-league side Kidderminster Harriers, can bring height to the Reds' backline, and pundit Jamie Carragher feels he offers something different.

The former Liverpool defender told talkSport yesterday: "What he does give you is a great size and great aerial ability that Fabinho or Gomez don't give you."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Antonio absent, but Moyes fancies his chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe