Liverpool vs West Ham: Key questions heading into the clash

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Seven points from three games; it's been a successful start from Liverpool in the 2015/16 season.

Brendan Rodgers' men appear a much better well balanced side compared to the back end of last term and they look like serious contenders to challenge for a top-four finish come May.

The Reds host West Ham United on Saturday prior to the international break and another victory would only bolster any chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League. 


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Anfield has been a graveyard for the Hammers in the past with the east London club failing to win at the ground since September 1963 and there are several key questions heading into the clash.

Can Liverpool Score More?

The Merseyside outfit have indeed started the season positively and defensive improvements have been most noticeable.

However, Liverpool have scored just two goals from three games and they will soon have to swell that tally.

The 0-0 draw with Arsenal last Monday night last a superb contest and it's unbelievable how it ended goalless.

The Reds had their chances at the Emirates and could have well had the game wrapped up in the first-half. Philippe Coutinho rattled the woodwork twice and Petr Cech made a superb save to deny Christian Benteke from short range.

Benteke was signed for £32.5 million from Aston Villa in the summer and he's expected to at least score 15 goals in the league. His miss against Arsenal was a poor one, albeit an excellent save, and should have gave the Reds the lead.

Liverpool netted just 52 league goals last season; a total far from good enough for a side who have top-four ambitions. Three points are of course the principle aim but we've seen how important goal difference has been in the past few years and saturating a plus total is too necessary.

Ibe Improvement

The summer headlines were dominated by Raheem Sterling's transfer saga to Manchester City. When it looked inevitable he would leave, Kopites were in no panic - many believed they already had a direct replacement in the form of Jordon Ibe.

Ibe had a highly successful spell on loan at Derby County last season where he netted five goals from 20 games and was recalled from Pride Park early by Rodgers to join Liverpool's first-team set-up and impressed.

The 19-year-old was given a significant role on the right-wing during pre-season looked to have a prosperous season ahead. However, he has flattered to deceive thus far against Stoke and Bournemouth.

Ibe showed moments of promise in both games but, ultimately, he did not provide enough from out wide. Although he proved he can beat his marker, his decision making has to be much better from decent positions and has to improve his end product. From 20 appearances he's yet to tally a single assist or goal, despite having plenty of opportunities to break his duck in both respects.

At just 19 it could be harsh to criticise such a young player who is still on a steep learning curve. However, with competition around him, he could lose his place in Rodgers' starting XI more often if not careful.

Another Clean Sheet Would Be A Statement Of Intent

Think back to the end of last season and compare it to now.

Liverpool conceded no less than 18 goals from their last nine league matches and were left red faced when Stoke smashed six past them on the final day of the campaign at the Britannia.

Four months later, after months of hard work through the summer, they are in a contrasting position. Along with Manchester City and Manchester United, the Reds are the only team in the top division to not concede a goal.

Nathaniel Clyne's addition was to to fill the void of right-back. It was difficult to see the 24-year-old fail after being so successful for Southampton and he is quickly becoming a fan favourite.

It is Joe Gomez who has astonished. Signed for £3.5 million from Charlton Atheltic, the 18-year-old was expected to mostly appear in Liverpool's Under-21's set-up and play for the first-team in early rounds of cup competitions. However, he was top-class playing left-back during pre-season - despite being a centre-back by trade - and Rodgers has showed full faith in him. At just 18, he's looked experienced beyond his tender age and has been solid at left-back.

Dejan Lovren has shook off his poor maiden season at Anfield and formed a bold partnership with Martin Skrtel at the heart of the defence. 

It's likely that West Ham will line-up with Diafra Sakho as a sole striker on Saturday. The Senegal international can prove himself a handful and scored against Liverpool at Upton Park last campaign.

Another clean sheet would be a massive statement of intent from Liverpool. Despite all of their attacking abilities they've boasted in the past few years, opposition sides have always been keen to take their chances when they attack the Reds as there have previously been plenty of holes to expose.

With improvements made at the back from Rodgers, Liverpool are showing they are no longer whipping boys on the defensive front and teams will have to treat them with even more respect.

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