Liverpool vs West Brom Preview: Can Pulis' bus be broken?
Liverpool will be hoping for a welcome return to their goalscoring ways after a frustrating shut-out against Manchester United on Monday, when they host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday evening.
It’s another game likely to be under the Anfield lights, with the Reds hoping to remain unbeaten at home this season.
Liverpool are, for want of a better word, in fine form. Not quite the form that Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal seem to find themselves in, but still, being eight games unbeaten speaks for itself.
Two of those games have been League Cup wins, but four consecutive Premier League victories came after the 1-1 draw away at Tottenham Hotspur. Leicester, Chelsea, Hull and Swansea were beaten, giving the Reds huge confidence going into Monday’s game against the Red Devils. However, despite all the build-up, ‘Red Monday’ failed to live up to expectation. Jose Mourinho did what Jose Mourinho does, and came away with a 0-0 draw.
Despite that frustrating result, Liverpool remain in the top four, and could be in top spot by the end of the weekend.
In credit to West Brom, and Tony Pulis, their early season form has indeed been impressive. In terms of recent weeks, they too are on an unbeaten streak – four games in fact. However, after beating West Ham 4-2, they’ve completely ‘Pulised’ their way to three 1-1 draws in a row, the latest of which being a credible point at home to Tottenham.
Having picked up points before the unbeaten run too, the Baggies are currently comfortable in 12th position, but could move into the top half if they pick up an unlikely three points on L4.
Liverpool were boosted on Monday when Adam Lallana came on, but it was a shame as a groin injury prevented him from starting the game. Now with a full week of training under his belt, the Englishman is likely to return to the fold on Saturday.
Georginio Wijnaldum, too, should return to the squad, although it’s likely that he’ll follow in Lallana’s footsteps and make his comeback off the bench. So, who drops out for Lallana? Henderson, Coutinho, Firmino and Mane will likely remain in bar late injury, so it’s between Sturridge and Can. Given the way Coutinho, Firmino and Mane tore Hull City apart, Klopp may be tempted to take Sturridge out and leave Can in the side.
Further back, you’d expect it to be unchanged, although some have mentioned the idea of Ragnar Klavan replacing Dejan Lovren to add some more ball-playing skills in the centre of defence. Loris Karius to continue being beautiful and hopefully get his second clean sheet in a row.
West Brom are in an enviable position, the most injury-free side in the Premier League. However, Jonny Evans will sit out with a suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend.
Liverpool predicted XI (4-3-3): Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho.
West Brom predicted XI (4-4-1-1): Foster; Nyom, McAuley, Dawson, Olsson; Fletcher, Yacob, Phillips, McClean; Chadli; Rondon.
When They Last met
Liverpool actually played West Brom as recently as the last day of last season, however it was a quickly forgotten game as Jürgen Klopp rested a number of key stars ahead of the Europa League final against Sevilla.
Salomon Rondon scored the opener at the Hawthorns, but it was cancelled out less than 10 minutes later by Jordon Ibe, who scored a lovely solo goal on his last appearance for the Reds.
The last time the two teams played at Anfield was the infamous game where Liverpool celebrated in front of the Kop after a 2-2 draw, Klopp displaying something that is common practise in Germany for the first time on these shores.
Jordan Henderson had opened the scoring, only for Liverpool to be pegged back with Pulis’ men scoring twice. Divock Origi saved the day right at the death, with a deflected effort that found it’s way into the net.
Liverpool have won 66 of the 146 games between these two sides.
Liverpool have only failed to score twice in their 10 games this season, but have only kept three clean sheets.
West Brom have only lost twice in their last five visits to Anfield.
Despite being held at home to United, Liverpool are still averaging three goals per home game this season.
Loris Karius has more league clean sheets than Simon Mignolet this season, despite having played two games less.
Match: Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion
Date: Saturday 19th October
Time: 17:30 BST
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 West Brom
It’s not going to be as ruthless or polished as the victory against Hull, but I think a victory is on the cards, despite saying that every week. We’re a different animal under Klopp, and are much better equipped to deal with Pulis’ defensive set up than we have been before. It was promising against United, they way we looked to build up the play, and I’m convinced that if we can repeat that the three points will go to the Reds coming up the hill.